Sunday, July 29, 2012

Giving vs. Sacrifice (There's a big difference)

Did you know there is a difference between giving and sacrifice? Many of us don’t. Our intention is to be in the world as a giving person, but when we are sacrificing ourselves, giving is left out of the equation! To truly give is to receive; and to sacrifice is to, well, sacrifice. Let me explain what I am talking about.

To give comes from a place deep within us that wants to share what we have with another person. The quality of giving is not, “I’ll go without so you can have,” but is more like, “I have something I’d like to share with you.” The act of real giving evokes a sense of receiving at the same time—it is very enjoyable to share what we have with others, especially with the intention of helping another person out. There is always a felt sense of abundance for both people during the act of true giving.

And why is it that we feel like we receive when we give? Because essentially we cannot separate the experience we feel within ourselves from the experience felt within others. We believe that we are way more separate than we actually are—our eyes tell us we are separated by bodies and distance; but the truth is what is felt within people we interact with mirrors what is also within ourselves. Therefore when you give and the other person receives, this, in turn, creates an experience of receiving within you.

I am sure you have felt this experience before. Perhaps you’ve had the opportunity to be of service to another—to offer something to someone who is in need, and you leave the experience feeling so full. This is giving. You receive. Always. You can’t have one without the other. Giving always makes you feel really, really good.

Many of us get giving confused with sacrifice, which is something entirely different. If you are “giving” without the sense of simultaneously receiving, then this is actually called sacrifice. Again, because what we do for ourselves is also what we are doing for others—when we self-sacrifice, the other person always ends up getting sacrificed too! I’ll explain.

Many of us give and give and give, thinking we are doing the “right” thing—thinking, not only, that we are being of “service,” but also secretly hoping that we will receive for our acts of “service” sometime in the future. Unfortunately when we “give” this way, the sense of receiving doesn’t come; instead, we burn out. I know that the intention behind this I-thought-I-was-giving is good—that you really wanted to be offering yourself for another. But here is the truth, flat out: when you sacrifice yourself, you sacrifice the other. That’s it. There is no such thing as you sacrificing yourself for the good of the other; they always get sacrificed too.  

Why does the other person gets sacrificed when you sacrifice yourself? Because when we sacrifice ourselves it always leads to resentment and inevitably selfishness. When we sacrifice, then we eventually grow angry—the feeling is: “Who is looking out for me? I give and give and give and drain out! I’m left with nothing!” And yes, that’s true—but you did that to yourself. You end up getting angry at the other person for something that you, in actuality, have done to yourself. When we sacrifice ourselves, then we feel sacrificed—and then we blame the other person for “making us feel” that way! Unfortunately, no one can make us feel a certain way. If you sacrifice yourself, then there is no escaping feeling sacrificed, and eventually resentful. It’s not a pretty sight for anyone involved!

Well, why are we sacrificing instead of giving? Because sacrifice is a thing of the ego and giving is a thing of the Soul. The ego is the part of you that interprets the world through separation—it does not believe that what we do to ourselves we also do to others. The ego interprets the world through lack, not-enough, and fear. And it is from the ego-mind that we sacrifice. When we believe that we are not enough to begin with, then we give more than we feel comfortable with. It’s like saying, “here’s a little extra, to make up for what I lack,” or “here’s a little extra, I hope you like me.” The part of us that feels incomplete then feels like it needs to give more. This is your ego.

On the flip side, giving is an act of the Soul. Giving, generosity and being of service come from our own sense of fullness—“I have, therefore I give” (not “I don’t have enough, therefore I give more”). When we are in more consistent contact with our own fullness, then we are able to give to others in a much more beneficial and profound way. Giving from your own greatness is what it really means to be of service. Make sure you are in contact with your “enoughness” before you start giving away. Catch yourself when you are “giving” but it doesn’t feel good—and call it out for what it is: sacrifice! And stop doing it. You and your relationships will benefit greatly from this simple shift.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dating with Soul

I have some secrets to tell you. They are about how to attract a partner you really want. They are fool-proof—they work every time and under any circumstance. Integrate these truths into your dating life and your matches will be showing up on your door step. 

Before we begin, let’s set some things straight about the dating world. A lot of dating advice will tell you to play games in order to attract a partner—pull him in, string her out. Don’t call for 72 hours and never give it up on the first date. Holy smokes, no wonder we are all untrusting and heartbroken! 

Listen, you can do all this game-playing stuff, but it’s never going to lead you where you really want to go. If you are actually looking for something real—a relationship that feels really good and that has the potential to last—then here are a few pointers on how to make it happen: 

      1) Be who you want to be with. That’s it. Like attracts like. If you are manipulating, playing games, not being honest, or trying to uphold power over someone else, guess what? They are going to do the same things to you! If you want to feel manipulated, then by all means, manipulate away! But if you are looking for an honest relationship, then be honest. If you want a generous partner, then you have to be generous. If you want love, then you have be loving. It’s a simple equation! Make your list of what you want, and embody those qualities.  

2) Authenticity! The real you is the most attractive you. We often put a ton of effort towards altering and changing ourselves to try and be what we think others want us to be. Actually, what other people want you to be is YOU. Covering yourself up (changing, altering) ALWAYS weakens attraction. Keep this in mind—the hottest you is the real you. Plus, if you start out dating someone as an altered-version of yourself, then it’s a set-up for a bad match (because they aren’t really dating YOU!). To find your true match, you have to be the true you.
      3)   You complete yourself. It feels really good to be in partnership and to experience love with another human being. Don’t get me wrong, I know the truth in that. But, you really have to recognize that no other person has the power to complete you—that is something you do for yourself by having a deeper connection to your Soul. When we enter relationships under the premise that we need another person, not only does it put a ton of pressure on your partner (it might be unspoken, but it will be felt), but it also sets you up for failure (because he or she will never complete you). YOU ARE ENOUGH. You have to really embody this truth in order to also feel it within your relationships.  

 4)  Be happy. Is this obvious? I hope so. But if not, let’s talk about it. I’m not talking about fake-happy; I'm talking about the real-deal. If you aren’t happy, then again, no man or woman is going to make you happy. You have to cultivate happiness from within. When you are happy everyone wants to be around you! Why? Because it feels good to be around happy people! Happiness = magnetism. Think about it. Do you want to hang out with sad people? No. Not fun. Do you want to hang out with people who are alive and interested and excited and joyful? Of course you do! So embody your joyful self and watch people swarm to you!

5)  Everybody is a Big Deal. This is actually true. We all have potential for greatness within us. It is important that you are connected to your own greatness, but it is also important that you are connected to your potential-partner’s greatness too. See the things that are great about this person. What are their strengths? Who are they? What are they all about? The more you can tap into the unique greatness that is within all of us (instead of judging people for what they lack), the more great people are going to be in your life. It's an automatic win, win!

I could go on and on for days, but I wrap it up with this, which is the essence of the whole thing: THE FOUNDATION OF ALL RELATIONSHIPS IS THE RELATIONSHIP YOU HAVE WITH YOURSELF. How you treat yourself, how you feel about yourself, and how you act yourself are all going to be reflected back to you by your potential partners. So, the real secret is: cultivate a ton of love from within and you are going to feel and find love sprout up all around you. Enjoy the process of dating; feel grateful that you get to meet new people and that they get to meet you. It's true--you all are a big deal.

Putting "Not Enough" In Check

Have you ever noticed how often you feel like there isn’t enough? You may experience this feeling within yourself, as in: “I’m not enough;” or you may experience this feeling outside of yourself, as in: “he/she/it isn’t enough.” Either way, it’s the same feelings of lack, and when you start to pay attention to how often we experience it, it can be quite scary.

Not enough money. Not enough clothes. Not enough time. Not enough love. I’m not enough. He’s not enough. She’s not enough. It’s not enough. The list goes on and on. It’s a hole of perpetual lack (which inevitably equals perpetual dissatisfaction) and most of us live in this state of mind a lot of the time!

What’s even more scary is that this feeling of “not being enough” exists regardless of what it is we actually have. Look at us—we are rich (if you are reading this on a computer, then I am talking to you)! Technically we have more than so many, yet it still feels like it’s not enough. We have so much, minus contentment and happiness (scary!). We are wealthy, yet we still feel poor. We are abundant, yet we still feel incomplete. Something is seriously wrong with this picture!

I think it’s time to put the illusion of “not enough” in check, shall we?

The first thing you have to understand if you are going to move on from this feeling of perpetual lack is that it is an internal state. Until you start to internally feel like YOU ARE ENOUGH, then things outside of you are not going to feel like they are enough.

The fact that we collectively live in a state of lack helps us understand why we are so obsessed with consumption. Whether it’s food, sex, money or accolades, the compulsions we feel to consume all boil down to an internal state of feeling like we are not enough. We want more and more and more. Why? To try and make that damn feeling of "not enough" go away! But because we are trying to cure an internal state with external things, we continue to end up right where we began—we feel like something’s missing, like there isn’t enough.

Now, before I move on, I want to set the record straight about consumption: I’m not saying that consuming is a bad thing. It’s actually a great thing if it creates a sense of joy within you. We are supposed to be happy, and consuming and enjoying life’s pleasures is a part of that happiness. But, what you should know about consumption is that if you are using it to escape the feeling that something is missing, then it’s not really going to work. The true escape from feeling like there’s not enough is done from within.  

So let me tell you what is going on inside of you to create the feeling of lack. The state of feeling like there is not enough is a state of your ego. We have two states of mind in which we view the world—ego and Soul. When we are really young we go through a period of separation and our ego develops. This happens for everyone. It is in the ego-state-of-mind that we begin to experience ourselves and the world as separate. When we feel disconnected, we start to feel incomplete. And until we do something about it, this sense of lack stays with us.

Fortunately, the state of the ego is actually just a story. Meaning, it’s not real. It is a felt sense within you that exists regardless of your reality (this is why we—people who have so much—can still feel like we don't have enough). It’s a delusion of the mind. The ego-mind covers up the true mind; and the true-mind is our guaranteed state of abundance. The true-mind is your Soul.

Your Soul is your natural state—your essence. It remains strong, even if you’ve felt disconnected from it for awhile. It doesn’t take much to tap back into this part of you that is already complete. Your Soul is an internal source of abundance, completion, connection and absolutely, positively more than enough!

The amazing thing is your Soul is something you can connect to whenever you want (because it’s WITHIN YOU—how convenient!). That’s right. You begin to feel lack coming on? Just take a few minutes to reconnect with yourself and the sense that you are incomplete will melt away. This practice is not always easy, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. And the more you practice it, the more you believe that you truly ARE ENOUGH.

The beautiful thing about Soul is it’s not something that can be taught because it already exists within us all. What you can learn, however, are ways to access it more and more in your daily life. Here are some of my personal favorite fast-tracks to Soul:

Meditation: I don’t do the whole clear-your-mind meditation. My kind of meditation is centered around feeling–heart-centered feeling, specifically. I close my eyes and begin visualize something that makes me happy, then I stay with that happy feeling as long as I can. That’s it. Pretty simple, right? Incorporating this practice will open the door to feeling good more often (which means feel lack less often). It's really simple. 

Gratitude: Hello Abundance! Gratitude is the state of feeling thankful for WHAT YOU DO HAVE. It is impossible to feel lack in a state of gratitude, and it is also impossible to feel anything but happy in a state of gratitude. If you practice gratitude daily, your sense of internal abundance will take a dramatic turn for the better!

Joy: Do things that you love to do. This is where you shine; this is what you are meant to do! It should be a major, major priority in life to be having fun. And you can do this everywhere. It’s a myth that fun can only be had in certain places and with certain people. Look for the little joys in life, they are actually EVERYWHERE when you start to open your eyes and look for them.

Inspiration: What do you want to be doing? What is your purpose? What is really, really important to you? These are questions you should be asking yourself on a regular basis. They are going to guide you back to your true self—your Soul. And that’s where you should be hanging out most of the time.

There are lots of other ways to contact your Soul more often, but in general, do more of what feels good to you. We tend to get caught in the false-mindset that we are supposed to suffer (another ego lie) and there is no gain without lots of pain (damn ego). The truth is, you are your best self, your most abundant self, the self that is certainly “enough” when you are living from a state of happiness and grace. So make a commitment to yourself to live there more often. You deserve it, you really do.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why Forgiveness Will Change Your Life

Forgiveness is the essence of freedom. It will free you from your past; it will free you for your future. It will free up space within you to create the life and the love you really want (I’m talkin really, really want).  In this blog I'm going to talk about what forgiveness really is, why it so important, and how to make it happen. If you're interested in changing your life, then keep reading.

Most of us are under the misconception that forgiveness is about the other person. I definitely used to think this way. I thought, “They are going to come to their senses about how they have harmed me, and then they are going to come crawling back, and then maybe I’ll forgive them!” (said with a sneer and a really ugly look on my face). Of course that’s what I thought before I knew better, because I was listening to my ego. Thankfully, now I understand the truth about what forgiveness is all about.

The reality about forgiveness is that it starts and ends with you. Period. It actually has very little to do with the other person! I know—this is hard to understand at first. But here's the deal: what we hold onto within ourselves dictates our reality. If you hold a resentment, it’s like holding yourself hostage; only you can release the prisoner—and reality check, YOU are the prisoner. We choose to forgive when we decide it's more important to be happy than to be right. We choose to forgive when we decide we are ready to let ourselves be free.

I know this is provacative stuff. You might be thinking, “But wait, I was really, really wronged!” And you’re right, you probably were. Forgiveness is not about denying what was done to you. Quite the contrary, actually. Forgiveness is about feeling the hurt, the pain, and the anger about what happened to you, and even in the midst of all those feelings, you make a choice to forgive. It’s a decision.

Well why is forgiveness a decision you'd want to make? Because unresolved resentments dictate our lives. One more time, because it's that important that you understand this statement: resentments dictate our lives. When we hang onto harsh feelings within ourselves (resentments) then we can't escape them--we may escape the people we felt a resentment towards, but unfortunately the feelings we're running from will make their way back into our new relationships. It's an infuriating process! We often think the answer is outside of us--if we just found the "right" person then we wouldn't feel the pain we have felt in other relationships. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the truth is no matter what, what you are holding onto internally is going to show up in front of you. Resentments included. That's the bad news. The good news is: forgiveness is how you let it all go.

Forgiveness has the power to transform all of your relationships (seriously, this is powerful stuff). You can forgive anyone, and you might want to think about forgiving everyone :). But let's start small. Choose someone you are holding a resentment towards and go through these steps. See what happens. Be open to a transformation. If it works--if you actually let your harsh feelings go--your whole world can change. So why not give it a shot? Here is a mini-guide of what to do:

Step 1: Become Willing to Forgive
Willingness means that you are open to the possibility of forgiving. You are OPEN to it. It is a POSSIBILITY. It does not mean that all of the sudden you’re over it. It does not mean you erase the past (which actually is just stuffing it into the unconscious—we already know this is a big no-no). It just means that you consciously create within your mind (and heart) a space for the possibility of a new reality—the reality that you are no longer resentful; a reality that you have forgiven.

Step 2: Bring Your Resentments to the Surface
Ask yourself, "Why am I angry?" Clearly pinpoint the feelings you are holding onto. You might want to make a list--how have you felt wronged or victimized? Just get clear.

Step 3: Distinguishing Soul from Ego
This step is all about recognizing that essentially we are all good people who have been hurt, and because of this we make mistakes and hurt others. We have a true self, which is our inherent goodness (Soul), and a wounded self, which operates from fear (ego). It is your ego (the wounded you), not your Soul (the true you), that goes on to hurt other people. This is true for everyone.

When we operate from our own wounded self (fear and hurt), we hurt other people. And we have all hurt other people! Many of us have really hurt people that we really love! This doesn't happen because we are bad people. This doesn't happen because we are flawed, or less-than, or just plain f-ed up! It happens because we are also hurt! And same goes for anyone who has hurt you too. Anyone who hurts others is also hurting. Does this make it ok? Of course not! But it's true, so it's better to recognize it as a reality rather than staying caught in the illusion that certain people are evil. Viewing others as "bad" calls for justification of anger and resentment; viewing others as wounded calls for compassion.

(Again, this isn't easy, but it's true.)

Step 4: Call Out Your Ego
It's time to look at your part and to take some personal responsibility. Ask yourself  "How have I brought pain to this person or situation? How have I done a similar thing that was done to me?" This can be hard to do, but it is so important.

Getting really honest about your part in the situation is essential. Your part may be that you have done something very similar to what was done to you (this is often the case, especially in our adult relationships). Or your part may be that you have held your own anger and hatred against a certain person for a long time (this might be the case for things that happened to us when we were young). Get as honest as you can. Go down your list, look at the specific things you listed, and ask yourself "Have I done a similar thing?" You might be surprised at what you find.

Step 5: Surrender
Now you've done all the dirty work and it's time to let your feelings change on their own time. All of the steps above will guide you towards a shift, but we cannot force our feelings to change--that happens on it's own, and it always happens if we intend for it to. If you can, spend a few minutes each day going through these steps for the your choosen person, and see what changes. You will forgive. I can't tell you how long it's going to take, but I can tell you that if you intend for it to happen, it will. And if it does, everything else will change for you too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What You Believe is What You See

We are way more powerful than we think. We have so much control over how we experience life and we don't even realize it. That's because we are under a mass delusion (most of us, anyway). We tend to believe that experiences happen to us; that things that occur in the outside world cause us to feel a certain way. Within this belief system we are victims of circumstance. We have no control. People, places, and things just do their thing, and we have to live with the result.

Luckily for all of us, this belief system is completely false. The truth is that everything that occurs outside of you is a reflection of your internal world. Everything that you see is, in fact, a mirror of what is going on inside of you.

Think about it. We can't experience something without it passing through our already established internal world. And because of this, our internal world plays a major role in how we interpret the external world. Everything is subjective! This, my friend, makes you powerful. Clean up your internal world, and your outside world starts to look pretty nice. I'll explain more...

The unconscious is a little thing that holds our internal beliefs and feelings that we aren't aware of. But it's easy to figure out what's going on in your unconscious because it starts to show up in front of you all over the place (remember, outside is a reflection of the inside). This means that any patterns you cycle through, or any feelings that you continue to come-up against in other people, are actually happening within YOU! We experience what is happening WITHIN US through other people (in psychobabble, this is called projection--thanks Freud).

When things aren't going well in a relationship, we often blame the other person for our experience. We believe that we "choose" the wrong people to hang-out with or date. But guess what? If an experience shows-up time and time again, that means you are carrying it with you! And this is where the power is, because you have control over you.

Let me give an example. I've recently been talking to women who perpetually experience men as unavailable. We (I'm included in this one) get stuck in this cycle and can't understand why it keeps happening. We think it's their fault. We think something is seriously wrong with the Y chromosome. Many of us blame this cycle on the first unavailable man in our lives (hello dad), but he's not actually at fault either. What is really going on here is that we are being unavailable in relationships, and then experiencing unavailability in our partners. We aren't showing up fully or authentically, and then we blame them for feeling unavailable! See what I mean? Outside reflects inside. (See my previous blog post Your Man is Your Mirror for more on this specific pattern)  

We're all doing this in our relationships! Blaming our partners for "making us feel" trapped, unwanted, unloved, unfaithful, un-whatever! And the truth is, if we feel those things in the first place (consciously or unconsciously), then we are automatically going to feel them in our relationships. Whatever we want to change in another person we HAVE TO CHANGE IN US FIRST!

Now, this is really good news. Because we actually can't change other people (although we continue to try) and we can change ourselves. I'm going to tell you how in the next few blog posts, but for starters, here's what you need to do:

1) Start to become aware that the pattern you experience in other people is occurring within you (what are blaming someone else for? How are you doing a similar thing?).

2) Begin to understand your old, false-beliefs and take steps to change them (beliefs such as: I'm not good enough--which ain't true!).

3) Start forgiving others to release old resentments. A resentment will keep you stuck in the past, creating a pattern in the present.

You do these things and your life is going to change for the better, BIG TIME! Clean up your internal world, and the external world gets much, much brighter.