We stand staring at the rainbow of two litre ice cream containers stacked behind the Pak’n Save freezer door.
“Can we choose Dad?” Jesse asks with his eyes already drawn to the prize.
“Okay boys, you choose” I agree.
Jesse wants Chocolate Fudge Sundae, Jett wants Boysenberry Ripple, they know they need to agree. It’s a fierce debate and while they typically work their way into agreement this time it’s a duel of desire, a battle of the dancing taste buds. One puts forward their case to the other hoping to sway the decision but each retorts with an equally compelling argument, neither prepared to concede this time around… there’s nowhere to go, it’s a stalemate. Time for Dad to enter the fray and force a decision…
“Okay Jesse heads or tails?” I say reaching into my parental bag of problem resolution,
“Heads” Jesse replies, one eye fixed on the Chocolate Fudge Sundae.
Meanwhile Jett’s focus is burning a hole in my phone which is displaying a basic coin flip app taking the place of what in the olden days we called ‘cash’.
Time to settle this battle of wills…
I always enjoy having the boys for extended periods during the holidays and it’s been really cool this week spending quality time with them after having been overseas for a few weeks. The day after returning Linda and I had a meeting with the principle of Jesse’s school and his two teachers in an extended and elevated parent/teacher meeting.
Linda and I had expressed concerns as to the learning environment and teacher capability while the teachers had concerns about Jesse’s performance at spelling. To be honest I’m pretty relaxed about academic assessment and am more focused and concerned with providing an environment that facilitates the development of inner passions and talents and effectively nourishes their sense of Self. Having said that I found myself this week slipping intermittently into questioning whether he was where he needed to be academically as I issued forth the odd pop quiz of “hey Jesse how do you spell….” or “hey Jesse we’ve got 5 bread rolls how do we divide those evenly between the three of us…”
I didn’t like these thoughts of judgement, my preference is simply for Jesse to give his best and to have the room to unfold his own brilliance. The last thing I want to see is his fire of potential being smothered by parent or teacher in what amounts to the judgement of ‘not being good enough’ for that is the plague which has crippled humanity.
I flip the coin…so to speak…
It’s heads, Jesse wins…his eye’s light up as if he’s won first division and Jett’s shoulders sink forward as he lets go of boysenberry dreams.
Jesse proudly opens the freezer door but pauses, never looks back just hesitates. He looks at the Chocolate Fudge Sundae but then reaches up to the top shelf taking the Boysenberry Ripple and putting it in the trolley.
“Say what” Jett says confused.
Jesse just gives him a cheeky smile and we carry on, my heart exploding with pride.
How do you spell Priorities? P.R.I…
In the last post we looked at a very simplified list of possible beliefs that may exist in our lives yet the reality is there is likely an incredibly intricate web of beliefs and rules around what is required in order for us to feel our Beautiful State of Being whether that comprise of Peace, Joy, Love, Meaning or Fulfilment. That being said the road to dismantling these conditional beliefs can be simple yet not necessarily easy. To start we must better understand the common thread between all conditional beliefs, there exists a master linchpin from which all hang.
When the realisation to which I am now writing was unfolding within circumstances of my own life I saw that there was one primary force that kept these illusory beliefs in place… Fear.
The fear is based on the notion that if these conditional beliefs aren’t satisfied we won’t be able to experience our Beautiful State and all else is suffering. The fear is that we will suffer.
Need, control and manipulation are the three pronged defensive force we employ in order to protect ourselves against that fear of suffering.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
Conditional Belief: In order to feel loved I must feel honoured and respected.
Fear: To feel betrayed or dishonoured means I am not loved
For me to feel honoured and respected my partner must …..(fill in the blank)….
I don’t want my partner to ‘do this’ or ‘be like that’ or ‘see that person’ or …..(fill in the bank)
Conditional Belief: I must be a size 10 in order to be accepted
Fear: To not be a size 10 means I am unattractive, not in-line with social expectations and therefore not accepted or lovable.
Need/ Control/ Manipulation: I must work out so many days a week, I must eat these foods, I must sacrifice these desires.
When we do actually manage to get one or more balls in the air as satisfied conditional beliefs to our own or society’s expectations, we may briefly experience that which we have longed for being our Beautiful State, however the double kicker in this no-win game is the fact that even when satisfied we will fear the loss of that satisfied belief or the goal posts will move and fear and suffering are returned as the belief moves back into an unsatisfied condition.
For example let’s say you have always believed that being a millionaire was what defined financial success in your mind and you had accepted it as a conditional belief of Joy and fulfillment. So you laboured many years and sacrificed much and to your great glory you achieved this goal and celebrate mightily you did. Yet as the streamers were swept away and the normality of your financial position set in you began to notice many billionaires and suddenly you were but a miniscule fish in a much bigger pond. You began to make a comparison and feel inferior and create a new conditional belief around financial success. The briefly satisfied condition is now once again pushed out of reach calling for your attempted control, need and manipulation for potentially the rest of your life in hope of once again holding that holy grail in your hands and bathing in its glory.
As long as we don’t control the conditions upon which we can access the highest prize of life then it will forever be just out of reach and fear and suffering to various degrees will be in our midst.
The road to freedom is the letting go of the primary conditional belief that all others stem from and that is the belief that there are external conditions that require satisfaction in order for us to be our Beautiful State. This is how Viktor Frankl found his freedom and we can to.
He wrote “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Viktor wasn’t able to change his situation so was forced inward, this in many ways was the blessing within his predicament. In what we might call normal life we are endlessly tempted to try and control people and situations in order to avoid our fears so that we can maintain the lifelong attempt to satisfy our conditional beliefs.
Our whole lives have become a giant web of fear avoidance.
When I finally conceded that it was impossible to control people and circumstances outside of myself I realised that as long as I needed anything from anyone or any particular favourable circumstance outside of myself I would always be a slave and destined to fear, disappointment and suffering.
I was forced to realise that everything I was looking for already existed within me and was within my dominion. I knew that ultimately I didn’t need anything from anyone, I need only let go of the underlying belief.
The question then became, how do I unhitch these limiting beliefs that have been so long engrained?
If I truly believed that as a sovereign entity all I desired was already within me, and indeed I did, then the only way I could see to burn the limiting beliefs woven over an entire lifetime was to prove them manifestly incorrect. To prove the belief wrong and the fear unjustified I needed to walk through it. I had to engage the fear directly, I had to take on the tiger.
To collapse the web of fear we must be willing to face it and move through it.
In letting go of the need for any thing or anyone to be different than they are, including ourselves, we walk through the fear. Paradoxically it is in surrender to what is as it is that victory is found. By letting go of any and all means of need, control and manipulation, we put absolute trust in the one new belief to which we hang everything on.
I am the source of everything I desire.
When we are willing to face the fear and move through it and when we let go of the need for people or circumstances to be different than they are, we undermine the entire house of cards.
On the other side of the fear we realise that the catalyst for suffering has been removed. How can expectations be let down when there are no expectations? How can we feel fat when we have let go of the the belief in that judgement?
It doesn’t mean we all of a sudden let everyone run all over us. In reclaiming our power to live in our Beautiful State we can now allow others the grace to be and do as they wish, for it is in the same freedom that we now bask. If who they are when freely expressing is not in alignment with who we wish to share that kind of relationship then we can make the empowered decision to lovingly change the nature of the relationship. When we know all the power is within us then nothing need be feared.
When the fear is embraced and the conditional beliefs are let go, we reveal our true Self, we potentiate our deepest dreams and we emancipate our lives.
To need nothing is to fear nothing.
To fear nothing is to be free.
I have come to the deep realisation in recent weeks that there are generally two types of people in this life, those that know they have been enslaved and those that do not. Very, very few people it would seem are truly free.
Viktor Frankl was a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz and endured what many would consider the extremes of human suffering, yet despite being physically imprisoned and suffering all measures of deprivation he was still a free man, how could that be? He sums it up beautifully in his quote:
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”
Let’s talk about what it means to be free and begin to understand how we have unwittingly given away our freedom and become slaves to an invisible tyrant. There are no greater chains than these to which we will speak, for a man in shackles knows he is bound but a slave to the invisible tyrant has surrendered his sovereignty by his own volition yet without his awareness.
True freedom is sovereignty over one’s own mind, it is the only real freedom for without it all others are but shadow.
What does this really mean? Let’s get a handle on this because it’s of paramount importance…
What is your highest wish or goal in this life?
You may answer ‘To be healthy’ and if I then asked ‘why?’ you would inevitably end up at what I refer to as a Beautiful State of Being for example ‘To maximise Joy’.
Your highest goal may be ‘To see my kids live a good life” and if asked ‘why?’ you would inevitably end up at a Beautiful State of Being which may be “Because that would bring me Peace”.
If your highest goal was “to be a millionaire, or to own a big company, or to be famous” then if I asked ‘why?’ you would eventually find that the reason you want these things is so you can live more often in your Beautiful State of Being whatever you define that to be. Sometimes there will be multiple layers however if you keep asking ‘why?’ it will become evident that everything we ‘do’ and everything we aspire to ‘have’ focuses ultimately around the ability to live more in this Beautiful State.
So by virtue of this deductive exercise we come to the understanding that:
The highest prize in life is the ability to live in one’s own Beautiful State of Being.
When we consider what comprises our Beautiful State of Being many may think of:
I refer to these not as emotions because I see a Beautiful State of Being as something deeper and lying beneath the surface consciousness where emotions flow. Think of it this way, you may sometimes get agitated or angry at your children but the underlying State of Being is always that of Love toward them… it remains constant even as the emotions flow like the tides, waxing and waning with the moon. The Beautiful State of Being when achieved is the bedrock of consciousness.
So if this Beautiful State of Being is the holy grail, the greatest prize of life, the question begs to be asked – who or what holds the key to our holy grail?
Whatever or whoever holds that key we are slaves unto.
Let me explain…
If from the outside looking in Viktor Frankl was rotting in his malnutritioned body while choking on the stench of death as his loved ones perished around him how is it that he remained defiantly free?
The answer is he claimed his own sovereignty of mind. He declared that he no longer needed physical autonomy in order to be free. He decided that in the dominion of his own inner beauty he no longer needed a nourished body in order to love or be loved. He proclaimed that amongst all the death he could find meaning and fulfilment which brought him a sense of peace.
Can you see what he did? Viktor took the keys back to his own holy grail. He reclaimed his power. He became the sovereign gatekeeper to his own beautiful kingdom.
To be sovereign of mind is to be the supreme authority and law giver over one’s own State of Being. To be sovereign is to be self-governing and hold absolute dominion over one’s own consciousness.
Viktor found his greatest strength and power in the eye of the storm. He let go of every traditionally accepted requirement for peace, love and joy and instead resolutely declared that all power to define his state of being resided within him and no external condition would have power over it or the ability to take it away. He understood that one’s true freedom could not be imprisoned nor taken away but rather could only be given away with the recognition of one’s own victimisation or lack. Viktor reclaimed his mental self-sufficiency and with it his true power and ultimate freedom.
Viktor Frankl and innumerable others have shown us that this Beautiful State of Being is innately within us and it is our
Beautiful State and directly accessible to us at any time no matter the external circumstances.
So that being the case, here is the big question – have you ever wondered why it is necessary we need to ‘do’ or ‘have’ anything in order to achieve and live in this Beautiful State? The answer to this question is the basis for understanding one’s own enslavement.
Do any of these conditional beliefs exist in your life?
In order to experience my Beautiful State of Being the following must be satisfied:
I must be loved or liked by those around me
I must be approved of by my Father/ Mother
I must be successful as defined by society
I must be successful as defined by my peers
I must be popular or admired
My partner’s behaviour must meet my expectations
I must be beautiful as defined by society
…and on and on and on ad infinitum
Can you see the common thread amongst these and indeed all enslaving beliefs?
We cannot ultimately control any of these conditions.
If any of these or any other beliefs exist in our life as conditions requiring satisfaction in order to access our Beautiful State of Being then we have met our invisible tyrant. These beliefs stand as Lord over our very life if we allow…they are indeed the enslaver.
How have we got to a point where we have given away the keys to the kingdom and accepted conditional criteria to that which is within our absolute control as a sovereign entity?
Our most highly valued State of Being is at the mercy of conditions that are outside of ourselves. We have given away our power, we have relinquished our freedom.
So for most of us we have imprisoned ourselves in a reality of conditional peace, conditional love, conditional joy, conditional, conditional, conditional. This is a position that brings a lifetime of suffering because every part of us wants to feel our Beautiful State so without ever being aware of the no-win game we are playing we do our best to play by rules we unwittingly accepted but never consciously agreed to and we chase the conditional joy, we chase the conditional love, we chase the conditional peace.
How do we do that given the fact we don’t control any of the conditions?
We try and control them and we live in fear that we won’t be able to.
We try and control our partners so that they meet our expectations.
We work harder and harder to try and be that elusive success.
We change who we are to be more acceptable to those around us.
We try and change everything about our appearance to meet society’s standards.
In order to chase the lie that we have accepted we sell out everything we are, we betray our true self, we abandon our true dreams, we prostitute our life. Slaves we become.
Who created the game?
Who set up these beliefs?
Why did we accept them?
We could dive into a deep conversation pointing the finger at our parents who really were just slaves to the same imprisoning system of beliefs, or maybe we could point the finger at the controlled media and their fear based propaganda, or maybe we could attest that there is an orchestrated socialisation process designed to strip us of our power and convince us that these conditions really exist and as long as we believe they do we will spend our life as self-imprisoned slaves plagued by disappointment, inferiority, and the feeling of never quite being good enough, all the while as little hamsters on a wheel fueling a giant machine of tyranny…
That however creates an easy slide into more victimisation and more relinquishing of Power. In the adoption of a villain or a corrupt culturalisation process we can define ourselves the victim of the system and therefore give our power away for now the only way we can find redemption is if those things somehow change and of course that isn’t in our control.
The Road to Freedom is knowing how to take our power back…
Part Two – The Road to Freedom – Taking Your Power Back
Isn’t it weird that we spend 10-12 years educating our children on reading, writing, math and a few peripheral subjects but totally omit what I would argue is the most important aspect of a well rounded education system? The subject of how to thrive and succeed at life. The subject of how to find fulfilment and live in a positive state of mind and live on purpose with an intent to live out one’s potential.
There exists so much established wisdom on how to win at the game of life. The more I try and expose myself to it the more I find it hard to fathom that it isn’t collated and summarised into a subject to be studied in our schools. The ancient wisdoms of the Tao Te Ching, or Confucius and Marcus Aurelius, or the classics of ‘Think and Grow Rich’ in itself aggregating 25 years of research into america’s most successful people.
Maybe the dozens of books on positive psychology that have in the last decade solidified a massive body of scientific research proving just what actions you can take today that will lead you to living a happier life. How about the classic ‘How to win friends and influence people’ as a crash course in effective social interaction. Knowledge on goal setting, and visualisation, the power of gratitude, the connection to self through spirituality and meditation. If you think this is up to the parents to teach well that doesn’t work when parents were never given this knowledge either.
This wisdom has always been there, and now in the age of the internet it has never been more accessible. As it currently stands only those who seek it out or have access to an informed mentor are benefiting from it’s unquestionable fruits.
To what level could our society benefit if our children were emerging from school based education empowered with this type of knowledge? The knowledge to win at life. To be fulfilled and successful, whatever that means to them. Embodying this wisdom benefits the individual but the benefits go wider than that. All those who interact with that individual also benefit by association. The individual would likely make contributions on a wide scale so society wins as a result too.
The more people we can inject into adult society with a well rounded knowledge of optimal living the better for everyone. I would envisage we could begin to foster an upward positive cycle that over the course of a generation could change a nation forever. Crime could be slashed, our economy could potentially move into hyper-drive as the level of entrepreneurs explodes and industry benefits from creativity and innovation like never before. Those who prefer to be employed will likely be more productive and find more meaning in their work leading to fuller happier lives and yet more benefit for all those part of their home dynamic.
Fantasies of grandeur? Unrealistic? There is no doubt many will think so. I would encourage those unconvinced to seek out this wisdom, experience the benefits in their own life and then I hope they too will join me in seeing these possibilities.
We have lived through great times of progressive change in the last few hundred years, the end of slavery and segregation, woman securing their right to vote, gay couples given their right to marriage and no-doubt many more. The tides of change always favour liberation. They favour those who have had less being permitted the same opportunities as those who have had more.
I believe that we are entering a new age of liberation. It’s time we gave everyone especially our children the tools and opportunity to live their lives to their fullest extent, to know early on that there is a calling uniquely for them, that life need not be a mere existence. This crusade will not be for a persecuted minority. This liberation could be the one to set us all free.]]>