Wednesday 10 October 2018

Which mask are you going to wear?

Which mask are you going to wear today?

Perhaps your reaction to this is one of puzzlement.  Why am I talking about masks?

Maybe you think you never wear a mask.  If so, you are almost certainly wrong.  We pretty much all wear masks.  There is nothing wrong with this, as long as we know we are doing it and choose to wear the right masks at the right time for the right reason.

The normal purpose of a mask is to hide a person's true identity.  This can be good or bad, depending on the reason behind it.  In some past cultures people wore masks to a ball so that they could do whatever they wished without the normal consequences.  They could flirt behind the back of their spouse, and even take someone else to bed, believing none would be the wiser.  Or today a person might wear a mask when committing a robbery or burglary, so that anyone around (and any hidden cameras) would find it impossible to identify them, allowing them to enjoy the proceeds of the crime without fear of arrest and imprisonment.  These are examples of bad reasons for wearing a mask to hide your identity.

But hiding your identity in order to replace it with another can also be a good thing.  Replace the word "identity" with "personality" and you should see what I mean.  Perhaps your normal identity is to be rather shy and withdrawn.  But then you are invited to a lively party.  Wearing a mask to that party could make you forget your shy identity and simply enjoy yourself.  Not for any nefarious reasons, not to prevent others from knowing who you are, but in essence to hide your own identity from yourself, allowing you to break out of that identity, enjoying things that your "normal" personality would not enjoy.  As long as the way in which you are enjoying yourself is not harmful to others or yourself, this is a good thing.

Also, we "put on" different identities or personalities depending on the situations we are in.  Many people wear a suit when they go to work, even if the company rules do not require this.  Why?  Because they enjoy wearing a suit?  Maybe.  But more likely because they find when they put on the suit they also put on a particular personality.  A personality that behaves in the right way in the work situation, even if this personality is something very different from their "normal" personality.  Some people even do this when they are working at home and will not be seen by anybody.  They find it is a good way to assume work mode even though they are in a place where normally they would expect to relax and enjoy leisure time.  So the suit is, itself, a form of mask.

There are other reasons for wearing masks besides hiding "normal" personalities and assuming different personalities, although that is probably the most usual reason.  For example, think about the plague masks used by doctors during the era of the Black Death.  These masks were intended to stop the bacteria passing from the plague victim to the doctor.  The doctors did not, at that time, understand plague was caused by bacteria, but they did recognize there was something within the victim that could pass through the air and infect them unless they put up a barrier to stop this happening.  Even today you can see a kind of plague mask, where people wear a face mask either to stop themselves infecting others or to avoid being infected by others.  These are all physical examples of using masks as a form of protection.  But the concept can also apply to personalities we assume.  Personalities that attempt to insulate us from "infection" by people around - with "infection" perhaps referring to being influenced in any way by them.  I would suggest this is not really a good use of masks.  It is true that there are what I would refer to as emotional vampires around us - people who seem to suck all the energy and positivity out of us, making us feel miserable and helpless.  But the best way to limit this is to avoid mixing with such people rather than to build a hard and solid barrier mask around us, preventing us from empathizing with anyone.

So, is it a good or a bad thing to wear masks?

It is a good thing if the purpose is to allow you to assume a different but necessary personality in order to achieve what you want to achieve, but subject to certain very clear and important rules.

Firstly, you should never assume a personality with which you are not completely comfortable.  Never take on a personality that conflicts with your true inner nature.  By definition it will be different, but it must not conflict.  An extreme negative example of this is so-called "conversion therapy".  This is a pseudo scientific process trying to make a person change their sexual orientation.  For example, making someone who is homosexual turn into someone who is heterosexual.  This is a very harmful process, whether a formal external therapy is used or simply an individual who is homosexual tries to force himself or herself to "wear a mask" of a heterosexual person.  Never allow your masks to deny your true inner nature.

Secondly, you must always recognize a mask for what it is.  A mask is not your true inner self.  It is just a mask.  Do not allow yourself to become confused and think that you are the personality represented by the mask.

Thirdly, and linked to the second rule, never allow the mask to take you over.  You are wearing the mask rather than the other way around.  Perhaps you should watch (or watch again) the Jim Carrey film "The Mask" to remind yourself of the danger of allowing any of your masks to take control of your life.  Know that they are simply masks that you can, and should, easily remove and put away when their function is no longer required.

Finally, and again linked to the above, never wear your mask for too long.  If you do, there is a real danger you will break both the second and third rules.  If you have a "work mask" you may wonder how you can avoid wearing it for too long.  You can avoid doing so by making sure you take that mask off the moment you stop work.  This includes not only when you go home at the end of your work day, but also in any work breaks you may have, especially your lunch break.  Where possible, go away during your lunch break rather than having lunch at your desk (if you are an office worker) and maintaining your work personality.  I have to admit that I am very bad at following this rule.  I recognize it may not always be possible to do this.  As long as you are certain you are not in danger of breaking the other rules then this may be ok, but keep a very close eye on what is happening and be prepared to take action if you sense any such danger at all.

So, what masks are you going to wear today?  Should you be wearing them?  And if you should, remember to take them off when they are no longer required.

Wednesday 3 October 2018

What is Stopping You

What is stopping you from achieving what you REALLY want to achieve in your life?

Stop whatever you are doing, including reading any further yet, and focus on this totally.  Focus on it as if your life depended on it.  In a way, it does!  If you can identify this properly you will make a massive positive change in your life.

If you are reading this paragraph you should already have identified a number of obstacles that are preventing you from realizing your dream.  No?  Then stop reading, and focus again.  Don't come back until you have listed those obstacles.

The list you have created is, I can almost guarantee, neither accurate nor complete, but it is at least a start.  What you now need to do is work on it to increase the accuracy and to expand the list.  I will give you a few ideas here of ways to do both, but don't limit yourself to what I am saying.  This project is absolutely unique and personal to you.  Nobody else can tell you what should be on your list.  Others, like me, can give you pointers, but only you can produce it.

Once you have a good, accurate list of the obstacles it is far easier to find ways to remove those obstacles, one by one.  You may not remove them all.  And you may only partially remove some, but every step you take is a step closer to realizing your dream, to having an infinitely more fulfilling and more enjoyable life.

One big obstacle that almost everyone faces is an inner blindness.  A failure to recognize when the right door has opened for you.  I am a firm believer in the power of the Law of Attraction.  What you really focus on will come to be.  The way the Universe helps you achieve this is by opening the right doors for you.  It doesn't push you through the doorway though.  It opens the door and now it is totally down to you firstly to see that open door and secondly to take action and walk through it.  Unfortunately all of us miss so many of those open doors.  The Universe does not give up on us.  When we miss one open door it opens another.  Sometimes there will be many open doors and if we step through any one of them we will be that much closer to our dream.

Often, you will find the open door is an offer from someone to provide you with something you need in order to get where you need to be.  Sometimes the offer will be completely without any cost or obligation, and sometimes it will be, perhaps, a business opportunity that does require some investment or commitment.  Be prepared to recognize and take advantage of both.

One difficulty many of us face is being able to distinguish between fake and genuine offers.  We can be held back by the phrase "if it is too good to be true, it probably isn't true".  There are very many cases where that truism most certainly applies.  If someone offers you $1 Million just for providing a means for the money to be spirited out of their country into yours I can guarantee the offer IS too good to be true!  But don't allow the preponderance of so many such fake offers to hide from you those offers that aren't too good to be true.  Usually you can rely on your intuition and common sense to decide which are false and which are true.

For example, you may find someone is offering you free access to some information or help that will take you closer to your goal, and when you review what is on offer you can see it is probably being done in order to attract you to something that you WILL have to pay for if you want to take advantage of it.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  There is a vast pool of really genuine and helpful information out there that you can take advantage of for free if you wish.  Don't hold back, cynically assuming it cannot be worth anything if it is being offered for free.  Recognize that it has real value.  The reason it is being offered free is because the business or person offering it believes the cost of doing so is a worthwhile marketing expense to have the chance to put something else in front of you that is NOT free.  If you have been reading my blogs for sometime, and especially if you are one of my e-mail subscribers, you will know I do this all the time!  Most of what I suggest my subscribers and blog readers look at is completely free.  I have already checked out the people behind the offers and know that they are genuine, and therefore am happy to risk my personal reputation by passing on those offers.  If you have taken advantage of any of them you will know that there is genuine good information and help there that can bring you so much closer to your goals, and that although what is then being offered for sale may get you to them quicker you do not necessarily need to take advantage of it unless you genuinely believe it is the right thing to do.  Very many of my subscribers take advantage of the free offers but never then feel obliged to spend any money.

So drop that cynical "it can't be true" attitude and see any such genuine offers for what they are.  The cynics will avoid them all, congratulating themselves that they have not been caught by some scam or other.  But in doing so they have thrown the baby away with the bath water.  Yes, be vigilant - recognize and avoid scams.  But be ready to take advantage of any genuine free offers that can take you closer to your goals.  I personally do this all the time and do not regret doing so in any instance.

Offers of this kind are, of course, by no means the only open doors.  Take off your blinkers and look for all those other open doors.  Genuine offers of help from friends, for example.  The right person being there for you at exactly the right time.  Don't assume there must be something wrong if there is an open door to help you get you where you need to be.  The Universe has opened that door for you, so step through it!

Another obstacle you may identify is lack of financial resources.  In other words, money!  We all have this obstacle to achieving at least some of our dreams.  Note it down, but don't allow it to depress you.  Be open to ways the Universe may help you get the financial resources you need.  Also, be aware that sometimes we don't actually need money to get where we want to be even though when we first look at it we think we do need money.  Be open to other ways of achieving the dream.  Again, this comes down to looking for the doors the Universe is opening for us.  Everything comes back to those open doors.

Finally, I promised to remind you how to increase the accuracy of your list of obstacles.  To a degree I have already done this if you follow everything I have said above.  But what you also need to do is meditate on your goals.  I have said this before and make no apology for saying it again.  Meditating on the goal will help you determine whether it is a genuine goal, but it will also help you find ways of achieving it.  Ways that would otherwise never have occurred to you.  Ways to avoid what you thought were obstacles preventing you from getting there but are really just figments of your imagination.

What is stopping you from achieving your goals?  Probably the biggest obstacle is YOU!  Focus on those goals, make sure they are genuine, and then simply be determined to achieve them.  Do this and you WILL get there!

Tuesday 25 September 2018

The coldest hour is just before the dawn

Have you ever felt at the end of your tether and decided that you are never going to reach your goal and perhaps you should simply just give up?

Probably this has happened to you on a number of occasions.  You may have had a lot of goals when you were younger but one by one watched them fade into the night.  Don't despair if that is the case.  You are not alone.  It happens to most of us.

But also, don't believe that it is inevitable.  It is not.  It can actually only happen if you allow it to happen.  If you are determined to reach your goal no matter what, then reach it you will.  Eventually.

Sometimes the goal itself is wrong.  As I have said in many other posts we often believe we have one goal but when we dig deep we realize our true goal was something quite different.  Our true goals form deep within us, and as they pass up from those depths they can get distorted.  Sometimes they end up distorted beyond all recognition.  So it is important every so often to sit and meditate, reflecting on your goals, and try to see through any distortions to the true goal deep inside.

Once you know you are focused on the right goals, recognize that there are likely to be many obstacles on the way towards those goals.

If you think about it, you probably wouldn't want it any other way.  If there were no obstacles it wouldn't really be a goal at all, would it?  For example, for most of us eating dinner isn't a goal.  It is just something we do.  Something that is hopefully enjoyable.  But not a goal.  For most of us there are no obstacles to eating that dinner.

Those obstacles are there ready to be challenged and overcome.  The stronger your desire to reach the goal, the greater your power to overcome the obstacles.  If you really want to reach that goal, and if it is the right goal for you, then you have all the power you need within you to overcome the hurdles and even pass through apparent solid walls between you and the goal.

Sometimes we are closest to the goal when it seems further away than it has ever been.  Whenever things seem bleak and whenever it seems that no matter what you try you can never reach your goal, always remember that you are probably the closest you have ever been to reaching it.

Have you ever heard the expression "The darkest hour is just before the dawn"?  It was introduced by Thomas Fuller in 1650.

Scientifically this is not true, but the metaphor here really is true.  Perhaps we should change it to "The coldest hour is just before the dawn", as that conveys a similar meaning and is also factually correct!

It is so often the case that everything seems dark, bleak and cold immediately before a radical change when everything becomes light, colourful and warm.

Only very recently I felt I was near the end of the possibility of reaching an important goal.  I have been struggling for several years to reach it, knowing it is a long term goal that will take many years to reach.  I say "struggling", which sounds negative, but most of the time it has been a positive "struggle" not a negative one, so perhaps I am using the wrong word here.  But only a few days ago it really seemed to me that I had reached a dead end.  The road seemed darker and colder than it had ever been before.  Did I give up?  No!  I prepared for the possibility that I had been trying to reach the wrong goal and that I might have to re-define it.  But then my natural inner positivity made me also accept that perhaps the negatives I saw all around me were illusions rather than the goal being an illusion.  The moment I reached that point I took an action to move forward one more step, a step into the dark and apparently up to a sold blocking wall.  When I did this it was as if a hidden door was opened for me.  I stepped through and found myself the other side of that wall and am now well on the way to achieving this long term goal.

So when you feel all is conspiring against you and that you can never reach your goals do not give up.  Yes, re-evaluate your goals and make sure they really are the right goals - but this is something you should always be doing anyway.  Once you have reassured yourself that you are headed in the right direction, relax in the knowledge that there is an all-powerful, beneficent force out there that will provide the ways and means for you to reach your goals as long as you keep on working towards them.

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Positive Liberty

What is Liberty?

This can be quite an emotive word, and one that can cause a lot of misunderstanding.  Probably everyone who reads this believes in freedom, in liberty.  It is the way the word is interpreted that can cause sometimes quite passionate differences.  Many people at different ends of the political spectrum may totally believe their interpretation is the only correct interpretation, and are therefore incapable of understanding the points of view of those at the other end of the spectrum.

For the purpose of this article, though, I am focused on a very particular form of liberty.  An aspect of what Isaiah Berlin referred to in 1958 as "Positive Liberty".  Berlin introduced the idea that there are two basic forms of liberty that are quite different - "Negative Liberty" and "Positive Liberty".  

Negative Liberty (or Negative Freedom - the two words are quite interchangeable here) is all about the removal of external restraints.  You could say it is the Liberty that concerned the Founding Fathers of the United States.  The Liberty that is central to both the Constitution of the United States itself, and the First Amendment of the Constitution.  A system that allows people the freedom to do, say, think and believe whatever they wish as long as it does not interfere with the freedom of others.  The freedom we expect from a democracy and recognize is not present in a totalitarian system.

Positive Liberty is quite different.  It is not concerned with removing external forces that prevent us from acting in the way we wish, but rather the removal of internal restraints.

Both forms of liberty are ideals.  In my view, ideals for which we can and should always strive, but also ideals we will never completely achieve.  Striving for the ideal of negative liberty is a political aspiration.  I hope you have reasonable negative liberty wherever you are, and wish you all the best if you are striving for greater liberty.

Striving for positive liberty is central to personal development.  In my view it is even more important than negative liberty.  It is possible to live in quite a controlling political system but still be happy and feel free because one has positive liberty.  But it is not possible to be happy and feel free without any positive liberty no matter how free the political system may be.

What do I mean by positive liberty?  I mean removing all the internal constraints that prevent us from achieving what we want to achieve.  The human spirit is an amazing thing.  There are virtually no limits to what it can achieve if it really wishes to do so - provided it doesn't have internal limits constraining it.

Let me give you a simple example of an internal restraint restricting positive liberty.  Imagine you live in a village in a completely free and safe society (in fact, I hope you do!).  You have an appointment with a friend in the next village which is a pleasant 15 minute walk away.  The friend is leaving for many months and you have something important you want to discuss with her before she leaves.  She is very busy preparing for her trip and was only able to book you in just before she has to leave, which is in half an hour.  You only need 10 minutes with her, so you are happy that you are in plenty of time.  When you are only 5 minutes away you have a sudden desire to smoke.  You reach into your pocket and realize you forgot your cigarettes.  The desire to smoke is so strong you turn around and walk back home to get your cigarettes, even though you know that means you will probably now not have enough time to have that important discussion with your friend before she leaves.

In that example, how free were you?  Nobody was stopping you from visiting your friend.  No policeman barred your way and told you to go home.  But nevertheless you were not free to do what you really wanted to do - because you lack positive liberty.

I know many people reading this will feel quite smug.  "I don't have a tobacco addiction, or an addiction to anything else, so this could never happen to me!"  If so, I am pleased for you.  It is good you are not addicted to anything.  But I only used the example of an addiction to tobacco as the concept was simple and something all my readers could follow.

The reality is that we all have inner barriers and restrictions that so often prevent us from achieving what we really want to achieve.  They are not as obvious as an addiction, but the way in which they restrict our positive liberty can be just as strong.

For example, an inner belief that you are not good enough to deserve whatever it is you are striving to achieve.  This is a very common limit to positive liberty.

Or an inner belief that what you are trying to obtain is a bad thing - even though you know full well it is not.  Again, a very common limit to positive liberty.

These inner restraints that limit our positive liberty are quite insidious.  It is almost as if they know that if you could shine the light of day on them they would burn up and disappear completely, like the vampires they are!  So they hide deep down within you, shunning the light of day and never really letting you know they are there.  You believe you are free to do what you want, to achieve whatever you put your mind to, but you are not.  First you have to identify and then clear away these inner limits to your freedom.

The next time you think about what it is you want to achieve, try to become aware of the inner constraints holding you back, your limiting beliefs.  There are many ways to do this, the best of which is to have "clearing" sessions with a good energy healer, such as Christie Marie Sheldon.  You can book a free energy clearing masterclass here:

Even if you decide not to go that route, find a way, any way that works for you, to identify and clear your limiting beliefs yourself.  For example, while thinking about your goal have a blank sheet of paper in front of you and sit with pen in hand.  Write down all the thoughts that come to you.  Don't be critical about those thoughts, simply write them down.  When you have finished the exercise look at what you have written and I think you will be amazed.  You will almost certainly see lots of limiting beliefs there.  Now you have exposed them to the hard light of day, focus on each and recognize the error of such a belief.  Watch it crumble into dust before your eyes.

Do this and you will make a massive difference to your positive liberty.  Release those inner limiting beliefs and be free!

Wednesday 12 September 2018


How well do you communicate?

When I asked that question did you think about getting your message across to others?  Or did you consider whether or not you really take in the messages others are trying to get across to you?

Effective communication requires both, but especially the latter.  Most of us are too focussed on the former (but still don't get that right) and almost completely ignore the latter.

It has been said many times that there is a reason God gave us two ears but only one mouth!

The most effective communicators listen carefully to what those around them are saying.  If you DO listen carefully you may be surprised at what you sometimes hear.  Not necessarily what is said outwardly, although that too, but especially the often partially hidden inner message.

Listening to what others are saying, and the frequently different inner meaning, doesn't mean you have to agree with them.  But once you know where they are coming from it is a lot easier to know how to get across to them what YOU want them to hear and understand.  Or to realize that you might be wasting your time trying to do so with this particular person and be better off finding someone more likely to be open to what you are saying.

Listening is also important, of course, for its own sake, not simply as a means for targeting your own messages more effectively.  Everyone has needs, and some of those needs are ones you can answer.  Maybe you can answer them with very little effort or cost to yourself, but help another person achieve great things as a result.  If so, then don't be humble, don't keep thinking that you can be of little help.  Do what you can and you may be very surprised by the result.  Try to do so selflessly, but at the same time always remember that one way or another what you do comes back to you.  Help others and you will find good things ultimately come to you as a direct or indirect result.  As Qoheleth (who was probably King Solomon) said in Ecclesiastes 11: "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days".  There are many quite different interpretations of this, but I certainly feel one meaning is that the good things you do will come back to you and help you long after you do them.

In any relationship listening is especially important.  Do not be that person who sits watching television and responds to everything his or her spouse says with comments like "yes, dear!" but actually is not really listening at all.  Have a proper conversation.  Really listen closely to what is being said, and perhaps even more to what is NOT being said!  Doing this can completely turn your relationship around, in a really good way!

This doesn't apply just in relationships of course.  From now on try to listen to and understand what people are saying and what they are not saying.

When nations insist on trumpeting their own beliefs and needs, and stop listening entirely to the beliefs and needs of other nations around them, this is often a pre-cursor to war.  We all need to listen more.  To understand the feelings and the needs of those around us.  What we do when we do reach this understanding is up to us.  Maybe it won't change the way we feel and the actions we are going to take, or maybe it will.  But even if there is no change we will at least be acting from a much stronger and much better informed position.

Take a decision right now that you are going to listen much harder, that you are going to try much harder to understand what it is that those around you want.  Again, I should remind you that I am not saying you should necessarily then GIVE them what they want.  But when you have a much better understanding of the feelings, wishes, and needs of everyone around you I can guarantee you will be in a much stronger position.  You will have a much better control of what is happening around you.  Why settle for any less?

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Fish or Snake

A boy went to his father and asked him for a snake.  The father was surprised by this request.  Very surprised!  He looked around for a snake that would neither crush (such as a boa constrictor) nor give venomous bites so his son could have what he asked for but still be safe from danger.  This took him some time, as he wanted to be really certain the gift would be safe.  Eventually he found a nice grass snake and proudly gave this to his son.  The boy looked at his father wide-eyed and asked "why have you given me this instead of a fish?  Do you expect me to eat a snake?"

Rather a silly story don't you think?  And if you know your Bible you may recognize it as a twist on Matthew 7:10.  A father will not give his son a snake if he asks for a fish.  But will he give him a snake if the son, intending to ask for a fish, asks instead for a snake?

The reason I have told this silly story, and maybe risked offending some Christians who won't like me changing something Jesus said, is that it illustrates something that is going on all the time.  Something I can pretty much guarantee YOU are doing.  All of us, me included, sometimes have great problems communicating what we really want to communicate.  This is nothing to be ashamed of - it is the human condition.  But it IS something we should recognize.

Recognizing the communication problem we all have is extremely important.  Even if we find it difficult or perhaps even impossible to communicate effectively all the time, we should at least be aware that we are frequently miscommunicating.  If we are aware of this we are much less likely to act the way the son did when he blamed his father for not understanding what he wanted.  We can  step back and recognize that the problem is probably ours rather than someone else's.

At a national level, the difficulty in communicating properly literally causes wars.  At a personal level it causes breakdowns in relationships - resulting in tragic and perhaps completely unneccessary divorces, and the loss of what should have been great and deep friendships.

The difficulty in communicating often starts with a difficulty in even understanding what it is we really want.  A desire begins deep inside.  It is a desire for something good and wholesome.  Something that will make us happy but will also do good in the world, create lasting change for good.  As that desire rises through the different levels of our mind and spirit it becomes tainted.  It changes.  Until it becomes a desire for something completely different once it reaches the upper levels of our conscious mind.  We communicate that often horribly mutated desire, are given a snake instead of a fish, and then wonder why we are unhappy and are not satisfied even though we have achieved and/or acquired what we thought we wanted.

I have said this many times in other blogs, and make no apology for saying it again, as I believe it is one of the major keys to unlocking a fulfilled, successful life.  If you want to be successful the first thing you must do is strip away all the camouflage that has so distorted your deep, inner desires.  Find out what it is you TRULY want rather than what you THINK you want.  Do this by taking some time, every day, to sit quietly and meditate.  Breathe deeply and slowly.  Relax.  Close your eyes.  See in your mind's eye a beautiful garden.  Notice what lovely flowers, beautiful trees, and delicious fruits are growing in the garden.  Let those lovely things speak to you.  If you do this often and properly you will be amazed at the way in which your own inner communication changes.  You will begin to understand much better what you truly want.

Once you know what you really want, you can ask the Universe for it, and can also go out and find it.  As you go looking for it, and doing whatever may be necessary to achieve or acquire your desire, you will find the way towards it is much better prepared and signposted than you expected.  This is the way the Universe gives us what we ask for.  Not by letting us just sit there waiting for it to appear, but by allowing us to see so much more clearly how to get it once we know what it really is.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"  Matthew 7: 9-11

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Ask and you will receive

You get what you ask for.  How true is this?

If you ask most people around you whether this is true or not, most will say no.  They will recount many tales of asking for something they wanted and being refused.

It is true that most, if not all, of us have asked for something and not received what we thought we should.  But I still maintain you DO get what you ask for, even though there is often a delay, and even though when it arrives we may not recognize it really IS what we asked for.

First let's consider the delay.

Most of us live in a society of instant gratification.  When we want something we believe it is our right to get it right away.  Our grandparents, and even probably our parents, lived in a society where if you wanted something you worked out how to get it, and then put a plan in place.  That plan may have lasted several years.  If it was something material they would put aside what they could afford out of their wages and gradually save up until they had enough money to go out and buy it.  Many, and perhaps even most, of our generation have a very different experience.  We are encouraged to go out and get whatever it is we want right now and then worry about paying for it later.  And probably my choice of the word "worry" is a good one in these circumstances!

But when you decide you want something, and you ask for it, you should not expect instant gratification and then complain when you don't get it.  The reality is that most things you ask for in life will take time to arrive.  If you then get disappointed or even angry because they don't arrive right away you will effectively be "cancelling your order".  So don't be surprised if then whatever it is you wanted never materializes.  Don't allow the "buy now, pay later" culture to deceive you into thinking you have a right to instant gratification.

Have you heard about the "Marshmallow Test"?  This was an experiment conducted in 1960 at Stanford University.  Children were led into a room where there was a treat on the table.  Something they had indicated to the experimenter that they wanted - e.g. a marshmallow.  They were then told that they could eat the treat now, but if they waited 15 minutes without eating it they would get two instead of one.  Do you know how many children were able to wait just 15 minutes?  Only a third!  They all knew they would get double the pleasure if they waited, but two thirds simply couldn't wait and ate that one marshmallow rather than waiting a short time and getting two.  The younger the child the less likely he or she was likely to wait.  In 1960 we were not really in the "buy now, pay later" culture, so I imagine if this experiment were conducted today, even adults would be guilty of taking instant pleasure rather than delaying and increasing their pleasure.

Learn to wait silently, knowing the Universe really wants to give you what it is you really want but that it probably won't give it to you right away.  Be patient.

Now consider the nature of what you receive.  Is it exactly what you asked for?

Often it is not.  Quite often it seems to be so different that we don't even appreciate that we really have received what we asked for.  You may be familiar with this hymn by William Cowper.  Read it carefully and take note.  If you believe in God, whether as a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, or with any other religious belief, then read it exactly as written.  Or substitute the word "Universe" for "God".  But take in the meaning and reflect on it deeply:

"God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm. 
Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill; He treasures up his bright designs, and works His sov'reign will. 
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds you so much dread are big with mercy and shall breakin blessings on your head. 
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding ev'ry hour; the bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flow'r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan His work in vain; God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain."

A very powerful message!  God, or the Universe, DOES give us the good things we ask for, but perhaps not in the way we expected and perhaps not in the form we originally imagined.  Trust this concept, as it is absolutely true.

From now on, live your life knowing that you WILL receive good things and that it IS very worthwhile asking for them.  Be open minded.  Know that the Universe does not act like an errant credit card, allowing and even encouraging you to build up a big debt to get NOW whatever it is you may want.  Nor does it always deliver what it was you THOUGHT you were asking for.  But it WILL deliver good things to you if you just ask and wait patiently.

At the risk of offending those who don't like religion, let me close with this quote from Matthew chapter 7.  Whether or not you are religious and whether or not that religion is Christian, reflect on the meaning of this passage:

 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Wednesday 15 August 2018

You will never reach your goal

Have you ever almost reached your goal, only to have the rug pulled out from underneath your feet just when that goal was in sight?

Have you ever actually reached your goal, but before you can start to enjoy it you find something has happened to make you walk away from it?

Be honest here.  These are two very common problems faced by most people.  If this has never happened to you then all I can say is that you are very lucky and are in a very small minority.  And just because it has not happened yet, this doesn't mean it will never happen to you in the future!

As this is such a common problem I feel it is very important to address it again, even though I have referred to it in a number of different blog articles.  What can you do to stop this happening, or at least to minimize the chance of it happening?  The first step is to recognize the problem.  If you understand the causes you have a much better chance of moving in a different direction and stopping the "self sabotage" from happening in the first place.

There are three distinct reasons here, any one of which can result in the prize of your achievement being snatched away, and all of which can work together to make it virtually impossible for you to realize your dreams.  If you do not address them I would go as far as to say you will never achieve your goals.

The first I will call "Fear of Failure".  The second is "Fear of Success".  The third is "Incorrect Goal Identification".

Fear of Failure

Fear of Failure is very common.  I would go as far as to say virtually everyone suffers from Fear of Failure.

Recently I read a novel by Celeste Ng called "Little Fires Everywhere".  This is a well written novel with quite a complex plot line.  But to me the strongest element was the self-destructive instincts of a mother who was afraid her youngest daughter would not develop in the way she hoped.  You could almost say she loved her daughter too much, although I personally don't believe in the concept of "loving too much", but only of allowing that deep love to express itself in inappropriate and destructive ways.  Because she was so afraid that certain things would happen, the mother unintentionally caused those very things to happen.  If she had simply expressed her love for her youngest in the same way as she did for her other children, my reading of the novel is that her youngest daughter would have grown up as "completely normal" rather than the maladjusted child she became.

This is very typical of all of us.  We are afraid that we won't achieve what we want to achieve.  This causes us to focus on all the things that could go wrong rather than on all the things that we could do to ensure we are successful.  Often we get very close to success despite all that wrong focus.  But eventually the wrong focus comes home to roost.

We often see this in the way a lot of relationships go wrong.  One party fears the other might stop loving them and find someone else.  They have no logical reason for this fear, but gradually it grows and takes over their life.  Instead of being the beautiful positive thing it should be, the relationship becomes toxic.  The party who feels this way begins to read the wrong signs into everything.  If their other half smiles at someone they believe this means they are transferring their affections to that other person.  Every innocent action is given a completely different reason, building a picture of betrayal - a betrayal that simply doesn't exist, yet!  The more this goes on, the more toxic the relationship becomes.  The other party is almost forced into a position where they stop loving the other, or at least find that love considerably diluted.  They cannot understand what has happened, but simply know that the relationship is not working.  And so they start looking for a better relationship elsewhere - the very thing that the person responsible for this change feared would happen.

The same thing can, and often does, happen with other life goals, not simply relationships.

You want to become wealthier.  At first you are excited by this goal, imagining you now have all the things you could have if you WERE wealthier.  Having imagined having them, you then imagine them being taken away or never having managed to get them in the first place.  This makes you feel rotten.  But you now believe this is the most likely outcome.  You think of all the things that can go wrong and stop you achieving your wealth goal.  Your focus changes from what you can do to get wealthier, to what can stop you getting wealthier.  All the negatives seem to add up to something much more powerful than the positives.  Eventually, the Universe gets the message - you are focussed on not getting wealthy, so that is what it is going to ensure happens to you.

Be aware that this not only CAN happen, but very often does.  Defeat it by focussing again on the goal and the pleasure it will bring, and don't allow all those negative voices to take your power away from you.

Fear of Success

Fear of Success is really a kind of evolved Fear of Failure.  You recognize that when you achieve what you want to achieve you can easily lose it.  So you then focus on how that would make you feel.  Your impression is that if you achieve it and then lose it you will be a lot unhappier than if you never achieved it in the first place.  I think you can immediately see where this is leading.  The closer you get to success, the stronger you feel this worry about how achieving and then losing is worse than not achieving at all.  So your subconscious decides the best thing is to ensure you never achieve success in the first place.  Once your subconscious makes this decision you may as well give up trying.  You cannot defeat your subconscious - it is far more powerful than your conscious mind.

The answer, of course is to ensure you do not send this kind of message to your subconscious in the first place.

The reality is that we win and lose things all the time in the game of life.  Take pleasure from your wins, and don't focus on the losses.  Don't allow the very real fear that something in the future will change and take away what you have initially achieved, to stop you from achieving in the first place.

Incorrect Goal Identification

Again this is something I have covered many times in different blog articles.  But it is extremely important.  If you don't give a great deal of thought to the goals you are working towards I can almost guarantee they will be the wrong goals.  The desire for success comes from deep within.  As it rises to the surface it becomes modified.  And when it reaches your conscious mind it is usually something completely different from the original intended goal.  

When you then start going after what you think is your goal, your subconscious sees it is not the original goal.  So it doesn't try to help you achieve it.  Even worse, in many cases the modified goal will be counter-productive and will move you away from what the true goal should have been.  If so, not only will your subconscious not help you achieve it, but it will actively work to stop you achieving it.  In the unlikely event that you achieve the goal, you will never be really happy with it, as it is not the goal you really wanted to achieve even though you never knew this.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to dive deep within yourself and find out what that original true goal is.  You do this by noting down what you think are your goals and then sit still and meditate on it.  As you do so you will be going deep within yourself where you are more likely to find the true goal itself.  When you come out of that meditation, note down your feelings and thoughts arising from the meditation.  You will probably need to do this many times before you truly identify your real goals, but every hour you spend doing this is an hour very well spent.  Identify your true goals and you will be setting yourself up for really achieving them.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Limiting Beliefs

Are there any limits on what you can achieve in this life?

The scientists among you will probably answer this with a resounding "Yes!".  Of course there are limits!  There are the laws of physics for starters!  If you are going to deny the laws of physics, then you clearly don't know what you are talking about!

The practitioners of the Law of Attraction will probably answer this with a resounding "No!".  There ARE no limits to what you can achieve!  Know that you can achieve it, know why you want to achieve it, and know that because of this the Universe has already achieved it for you!

Both are right, but also both are wrong.

I would remind the scientists that even the laws of physics themselves are a changing feast.  Nothing in this universe is immutable; everything, including even the basic scientific laws we have believed in for centuries, has the seeds of change within it.  Laws help us interpret what is happening around us.  They even help us predict what is likely to happen next.  But they are not cast in concrete, even though some charlatans who claim to be scientists may tell us they are.

I would remind the practitioners of the Law of Attraction that there ARE limits - the limits we ourselves create, our limiting beliefs.  If you believe you cannot achieve something you are absolutely correct in your belief!  And it is that belief which will ultimately prevent you from achieving it.

Limiting beliefs arise in many different ways and from many different sources.  But often they are linked to that first objection - the belief that the laws of the universe will prevent us from achieving what we want to achieve.

There is, actually, a very good evolutionary reason for this source of limiting beliefs.  There are, of course, actions you can take which place you in danger.  If you are tempted to take such actions you will find strong objections rising from within that prevent you following through.  If this did not happen you would be much more likely to die, perhaps before you had contributed to the gene pool.  By definition, those who lack this protective mechanism are therefore much less likely to have children, and whatever gene "malfunction" stripped away the protection is unlikely to be passed on to the next generation.  If you look up "Darwin Awards" online you will see many such examples.

If you are tempted to step off a skyscraper just to see whether you have developed the ability to fly, but find an inner fear of the likely consequences prevents you, this inherent limiting belief is certainly performing an essential function.  But if you are a well trained acrobat you will need to conquer that same fear.  The fear that stops someone else doing something stupid can not only limit you from achieving what you need to achieve, but can also appear at just the wrong moment and cause the very harm it is supposed to limit.

The trouble is, this underlying evolutionary protective mechanism has no way of knowing when it should and when it should not act.  If it senses a set of pre-defined circumstances it will swing into action and prevent you achieving what you are trying to achieve.  Unless you know how and when to switch it off.

I have focussed here on physical danger, as that is the most obvious example, and one everyone can follow.  But our inherent evolutionary limiting beliefs are by no means confined to physical danger.  In fact, they tend to try to prevent any change at all.  If you are alive and healthy, then (this internal security guard argues) whatever you have been doing up to now clearly works in your favour.  By extension, anything you may wish to do which could change the status quo could bring danger.  To be on the safe side your internal security guard will try to lock you into the status quo and block out anything that could change it.

This resistance to change is present within all of us.  It is not the only limiting belief by any means.  We have all collected hundreds or even thousands of limiting beliefs.  But an inherent resistance to change is probably the biggest limiting belief of all.

Being aware you have a limiting belief is always the first required step to remove it.  Be aware that you have a natural, innate resistance to change.  Don't try to remove the fear of stepping off a skyscraper (unless, of course, you are an acrobat and that is part of your act).  You will probably not be successful if you do try, and if you ARE successful it may well be your last success in life!  But do look carefully at whatever within you is resisting change, as you need to accept and even demand change if you want to achieve anything at all.

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Follow Your Dream

What is your dream?  What do you really want to happen, in your life, in the lives of those around you, and in the world in general?

Think about your answer to this very carefully.  This is probably one of the most important questions you have ever asked yourself, or ever will.

Set no limits here.  I haven't asked you "what difference can you make", even though that is a very important question too.  It is important to focus on making a difference, but when phrased that way it automatically assumes limits.  It invites you to exclude anything that you think is too difficult to achieve or that is simply not something "little old you" can achieve in this world.  So by all means dream of making a difference, but don't include the word "can" which also implies a whole area of "cannot".

There are so many ways to tackle the question "what is my dream?".  Try them out for size.  Explore them.  Apply them.

Many people answer the question confusing the "means" with the "end".  They may say their dream is to have a million dollars in the bank.  I am not criticizing this as a desire.  Despite what many may tell you there is nothing wrong with wanting a lot of money.  But think about WHY you want all that money.  Knowing the reason you WANT a lot of money will make it much more likely you will get it.  Money of itself is nothing.  It is what having it allows you to achieve that has real meaining.  And although I again say there is nothing wrong with money, sometimes when you focus on exactly what it is you want to achieve when you have the money you may find ways of achieving it without needing a million in your bank account!

Some people find their answer to this question by imagining they have been given a limited time to live and then focus on what is really important to them, what they want to do in that limited remaining time.  This is a good exercise.  Especially because actually it is very true.  You DO have a limited time to live!  There are not many guarantees in this life, but that is one thing I can absolutely guarantee!  You probably don't know when you are going to die, in fact I hope you don't.  But you do know that one day you ARE going to die.  So in the meantime, why live your life like a zombie, just doing the things you always do because you always do them?  Instead, live your life to fulfil your dreams!  Make a difference!

So, ask yourself that question.  What is my dream?  Or rather, what are my dreams?  Don't limit yourself to just one dream, unless you find it is so powerful and all-consuming that there is no room for anything else, and that by committing yourself to that dream you will become the happiest and, even more important, most fulfilled person you could ever be.

Ask the question, and then take steps to change your life so you are moving in the direction of that dream or those dreams.  Every step you take in that direction is a powerful, positive step.  One which should make you happier.  One which should make you more fulfilled.  Perhaps not the happiest person in the world, yet.  Maybe not the most fulfilled.  But happier, and more fulfilled, and that is the key thing.

And don't fall into the trap of confusing the means with the end.  Yes, some of what we do to fulfill our dreams will not create immediate results.  In fact, that applies to a lot of what we do.  But there will always be some steps you can take which WILL make a difference, even though it may be a small difference.  It is important to take those steps, as none of us knows when we are going to breathe our last breath, so make every day, every hour count.

Once you realize just how much of a difference moving towards your dream can make to you, to those around you, and to the world itself you will never want to stop that journey!  So get on board right now!  Your dream is beckoning to you!  Don't ignore it - follow it!

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Why Worry?

Do you ever worry?  If so, why?  And should you?  If not, how can you stop worrying?

If I am asked the question "do you ever worry?" I always answer "no".  I will explain in a moment why I can say that and how you can too, but strictly speaking it is not 100% accurate.  I do worry - for a few seconds while the worry works its true purpose.  And what is that purpose?  Worry has the same purpose as pain - to make me aware that there is a problem and that I should try to do something about it.

Just like pain, when you are aware there is a problem and have done whatever you can to deal with it, the worry has served its purpose.  But also just like pain, the worry normally lasts until the problem has completely gone away - and sometimes even beyond this.  It makes no difference that you have responded to your body's signal and that continuation of the pain or the worry is no longer required.  Unless you have learned techniques to stop it, the pain or worry just goes on and on.

In the case of pain there are mental techniques you can use to reduce or even eliminate it, or rather to reduce or eliminate the unpleasant effects.  Most of us either don't know those techniques or find them too difficult to use when we are distracted by severe pain.  But there is medication we can use which can be very effective in numbing the pain.  Likewise for worry.

One problem with medication is that if you use it too much you become dependent on it, and at the same time it can become less and less effective.  It is much better if you can deal with the root of the problem, in this case the worry, rather than taking drugs to dull your reaction to it.

Once the worry has done its job of making you aware that "Houston, we have a problem!" the first thing you must do is address that problem.  It would have been very foolish of Jack Swigert, the Apollo 13 astronaut, simply to have ignored the problem, pretended it didn't exist, and hope it would go away.  He did the right thing and took action.  It would be very foolish of you, too, to ignore the problem when a worry arises.  You must focus on what the worry is warning you about.  Identify the problem, look at what action or actions you can take to address the problem, decide on the most appropriate actions, and take them.  This should always be the first step.

Having taken the appropriate actions you no longer need the worry.  But unless you do something about it that worry will remain.  At this point it is not only unnecessary but also usually counter-productive.  It can leave you like a rabbit caught in the headlights and stop you taking the necessary actions.  And remember what usually happens to that rabbit if it doesn't take immediate action!

The way I always deal with "post action" worry is a technique I have used since childhood, and I can guarantee it has always worked for me.

The technique, in a nutshell, is very simple.

First list the possible end results of whatever it is that is worrying you.  What are the most devastating possible results?  How likely are they?  Cross out any that are very unlikely.  Then focus on the most devastating of those that remain.

At this point you are now going to do something counter-intuitive, especially if, like me, you believe in and practise the Law of Attraction.  You are going to imagine that this has already happened.  What changes will that mean in your life?  Is there anything you can and should do to react to those changes and make your life a little better?  Don't skip past this step, worrying (see that word again?) that you will invoke the Law of Attraction and create the very problem you want to avoid.  Yes, if you stop there, like that rabbit, then you WILL invoke the Law of Attraction.  You are NOT going to stop there, but you do first have to experience this situation in your mind.

Now answer this question.  Just how bad is life for you now this bad thing has happened?  How does this compare with other bad experiences you have had previously?  How does it compare with the bad things you have seen around you or on the news that have happened to others less fortunate than you?  Once you have taken the actions you have thought about to limit the damage, then how bad is it?

Perhaps I have been fortunate, but in the 50 years I have been doing this I have never yet come across a problem that still seemed completely overpowering once I have analysed it in this way.  Not even when I was diagnosed with cancer.

Once you have accepted the possible consequences of whatever has been worrying you, go back to the action you have taken or have resolved to take which will probably make the problem go away anyway.  Recognize that because you have done this, the bad experience you have just analyzed will probably not happen anyway.  Focus on that action.  Make sure you do everything possible to help it counter the identified problem. 

Or if there is no action you can and should take, then focus anyway on the possible positive outcomes.  In my experience, most of the things we worry about never actually happen, or if they do they cause much less damage than we expect.  So focus on this.  Now you ARE using the Law of Attraction, so don't skip this step either, as it is making it far less likely that your life will be affected badly by the problem.

Once you have taken all these steps, you have done all you can.  The worry has done its job.  Thank it for making you aware of the problem, and then simply allow it to slip away.  Believe me, if you follow these step properly then slip away it will.

And that is it!  This is a complete strategy for dealing with worry.  Not something I just read about and thought it sounded like a nice idea, but a strategy I have used successfully for the past 50 years.  Use it properly, and watch your worries melt away!

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Like a Little Child

Are you like a little child?

My Christian friends will be very familiar with this verse from Matthew 18:2-3:

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

But I believe this is not simply a religious verse, and certainly not one that is only for Christians.  All of us who are trying to improve ourselves and the circumstances in which we live should take note.

As we go through life we acquire more and more rules that constrain us.  Those "rules" limit our freedom to be what we are truly capable of being.  They stop us from developing our full potential.

One big difference between an adult and a little child is that the child has very few internalized rules.  A child knows there are certain rules that must be followed, but those are mostly common sense rules and ethically sound rules, not the massive rule book that most of us carry around without even realizing it.  Also, in a lot of cases those rules are not yet internalized.  The child knows that if he or she does not follow the rule, and that this is noticed by an adult, something bad might happen.  But if an opportunity to break the rule arises, that opportunity may well be taken.

I am not, of course, suggesting that we throw our rule books completely out the window, living our lives selfishly and without being concerned at all about the consequences of our actions.  Certainly not deciding that we will only follow a moral code when we are being watched but break every rule in that moral code when nobody will see.  So what, exactly, am I suggesting?

The first step I am suggesting is to recognize the burden you are carrying.  The burden of a "book of law" you are carrying and trying to follow, most of which is simply not appropriate.

Your "book of law" is what is stopping you from growing and bearing fruit in the way you could and should do.  It is stopping you following those dreams and ambitions you had as a little child.  It is stopping you becoming a much happier, much more fulfilled person.  Most of what is in that rule book is simply not appropriate.  In the main it does not consist of rules you have consciously studied and decided are right for you.  It mainly consists of rules that you have "acquired" through your life and which were thrown at you by others.  Many of those rules are hidden deep within your subconscious mind.  Not only were they created for you by someone else, or by the experiences through which you have lived, but you never actually consciously examined them and agreed they were the right rules to follow.  So begin by deciding you will throw away this inappropriate rule book.  Make a decision now that you will not allow it to control you any longer.

Having decided you will throw away the rule book, make sure you replace it with a set of rules that you DO wish to follow.  Spend some time thinking about those rules.  The time you spend doing this is very important, as it will determine the direction your life will now take.  Choose wisely and your life in the future will be very different.

Each of us must make our own decision here.  It is not for me, nor for anyone else, to tell you what should be in your rule book.  For those who are religious it may be whatever is your holy book.  The Bible, the Qu'ran, the Tanakh, Guru Granth Sahib, the Vedas, the Tripitaka or some other holy canon.  For those who are not religious it may be a set of ethical principles you truly believe are important to follow.

I have said I will not impose my own rule book on you, and I will not.  But I will tell you what I have decided should be in mine, and it is then up to you if you find this fits comfortably into your own situation.

My number one rule is the Golden Rule.  "Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law".  Another quote from the book of Matthew in the Christian Bible.  That is my absolute, unbreakable rule.  Any other rules I decide to follow always have to fit comfortably with the Golden Rule.

My number two rule may surprise and disturb some of my readers, but hear me out before you reject it.  This rule is one introduced in the early 1900s by the magician Aleister Crowley and is the basis of his Thelema philosophy.  It begins as follows:  "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law."  Many people completely misunderstand this rule and think it means there is no rule at all and that we should all do exactly what we like, no matter what the consequences for those around us.  But this is not the case.  Read the second half of this rule: "Love is the law, love under will."  This fits nicely with the Golden Rule.  If we truly make love the centre of our rule book we cannot go far wrong.  The real meaning of "Do what thou wilt" is that you should find your own true path in life.  You should discover your true "will" that is hidden deep within you.  Find what it is you really want to achieve in life and go for it!

So, become like a little child.  Remove the fetters that are preventing you becoming what you truly could and should become!  Enjoy the freedom of a little child, but still controlled by rules that you have studied and with which you fully agree.