This is the fourth article in a series on Positive Change. My goal with this series is to give you the tools necessary to manifest positive change in your reality, or simply put, to get what you want and eliminate what you don’t want in your life.
Before you read this article, make sure you read the first three in the series in this order –
I re-read the first three articles in the series before beginning this fourth chapter, which led me to a realization that I was potentially missing out one of the most important points. Based on observation of people who struggle in life, this sticking point is something critical to eliminate early on, otherwise you’re going to hit a brick wall every time you look to make changes.
My intention is to complete this series with an insight that is literally the key to not only having whatever you want in your life, but also making the entire planet a better place, but before I do that, we need to get one roadblock out of the way. Let’s do that now…
We’ve laid a framework that can lead you to realizing positive changes in your life, which is based on the following five core principles –
These five principles can take you far, but there’s an insidious force that has a nasty habit of derailing people before they adopt and practice these ideas, which I label “Ignorance“.
Ignorance can come in many shapes and forms and is pervasive in our current society. Almost everyone “suffers” from it in some way.
The problem with ignorance is that it creates a rigid belief structure that stops certain ideas even having a chance. If you’re stubborn, and you believe certain things must be a certain way, or you’ve learned a certain way of looking at the world that you refuse to change, then you’ve locked yourself into a box.
Some people, even if their own framework is flexible, suffer from the ignorance of people around them, which can include your immediate family and friends, or more wide reaching social structures, political and religious systems and cultural norms. These structures impact you if you choose to partake in them (you could always become a hermit and live in a cave).
You have a choice in how you interpret everything, so even if you are forced to adhere to a rule or system you don’t think is right, you can choose how you respond to it. This is why people locked into a life sentence in jail can still find happiness, yet those who have abundant freedom can still find a way to be miserable.
I’m sure you know what it is like when you’re talking to a friend in a bad relationship, or a job that’s not right for them, or they have a habit they refuse to quit like smoking, yet no matter how hard you try and make them realize what they are doing is not beneficial, it just doesn’t get through. This is frustrating because of course you want what is best for the people around you, but ultimately you can’t make decisions for other people.
The problem becomes especially pronounced when you don’t share a basic framework, ideology or world view that is compatible with the person you are communicating with. If you’re talking about something that is blue, but your friend is wearing red-tinted glasses, you have no possibility of “making” them see what you can see. They need to take off the glasses first – or try putting on another pair of glasses – which is something they have to decide to do for themselves.
It’s not your responsibility to change anyone, however you do have control over your own reality, and becoming aware of your ignorance is the first step to eliminate it. Some form of rigid thought process or belief system is holding you back right now, and you’re not even aware of it. This impacts how you make decisions and what actions you take, so until you deal with your own ignorance, you’re going to struggle to change.
The first step you can take immediately is to start watching to see if you are wearing any “glasses” that are stopping you from making change.
Being open minded is great, but what I’m talking about here goes much deeper than that. You might consider yourself open minded already, but if you monitor your own reactions to what other people say, or what happens around you, you will see that even you have knee-jerk responses to situations, or behavior patterns that are entrenched in your lifestyle and impact your choices in ways you don’t currently see.
We’re all a product of our upbringing, cultural story, personality type and previous experiences. We interpret the world through our own lens that is constructed of all these things.
There are countless expectations like this that impact how we think and act in life, some of which we can see, some that we blindly follow every day without realizing.
Most people I know, myself included, make initial impression judgments based on things like how a person looks and what clothes they wear. Even though I’m open minded, I can’t help but make a judgment on some level, that’s what humans who are driven by egos do.
The key is to realize you are making judgments constantly, become aware of that, then drop them if they are hindering your progress or causing you to suffer. It takes work because you’re trying to unlearn patterns of behavior and thoughts you’ve likely continued for years, possibly your entire adult life.
Be careful not to fool yourself either. It’s easy to say something to the people around you based on what everyone expects because of social standards. No one expects you to be racist, so saying you’re not is expected behavior, but if the conversation in your head is actually racist, then you’re just lying to yourself.
This doesn’t have to be about something as severe as racism either. If you watch your thoughts you might be surprised at how often you tell yourself things you don’t really want to believe simply because of habit or conditioning. Changing what’s going on outside starts with reconstructing what’s going on inside you.
At this point in our discussion it’s important that I introduce an idea that might take you a little while to fully come to terms with. You might think you “get” this – I did at first – but then realized I really didn’t fully understand the implications of this concept.
It is something I have struggled to fully integrate into my life, but once you do, it can dramatically change how you perceive the world and all the people in it. Let’s take a look at this concept now, and in the next article in this series we will dig a little deeper. Here we go…
Truth, is only truth in your mind.
No one else on this planet shares what you consider true because no one else can be in your body at the same time as you, at least from the perspective of the individual (we will look at universal “oneness” later).
What you determine is true is based on what your senses interpret. The data from your body is sent to your mind, which determines how you perceive something. From there you use language to label what you have perceived, to make it possible to communicate with other people and categorize what is around you.
A red apple is a color that collectively we have agreed is red, however it’s only true because we’ve learned what the red label represents. Although I know what red looks like to me, I can never really know what red looks like to you. It’s safe to assume that most of us see it in a very similar way since we use our eyes – and we all have eyes that are constructed in a similar manner – but we can never be 100% certain what another person sees, it is impossible without becoming part of their consciousness.
Given the limitations of physical existence and our system of labels for language, it’s absolutely critical that you never attach yourself to an interpretation of truth. If you become attached to it, then you will start to emotionally identify it as your point of view and feel a need to impose it on other people, or defend it when others disagree. If your desire to make the world be something is so strong that you find yourself suffering as a result, you need to let go.
The awareness of just letting things go and pass through you, can be a wonderfully liberating realization. When you decide that what other people think about you, or how they see the world, or what they do, is not your responsibility, you enjoy an immense sense of relief. Deciding that it’s not your job to control the universe, but to flow with it, will make your life significantly easier.
Your only responsibility is to determine what you consider the truth – your truth – and act on that in each and every moment. If your truth is dynamic – not rigid – and you understand you are simply choosing to see things in a way that creates power in your life in that moment, then you’re doing the best you can.
Once you start monitoring and adjusting your own interpretation and you start to dissolve your judgments, something interesting will start to occur. You will get curious.
The great thing about opening your eyes to other colors is that suddenly the world doesn’t seem nearly as black and white as it used to. The more structures you have in your life, the more liberated you will feel as you break them down.
With this new sense of freedom you will desire more stimulus. Everything in the world will become more interesting because you won’t be focused so much on trying to make everything and everyone around you fit into “boxes”. The boxes of course, don’t exist, they are just mental constructs you’ve created to help you feel safe. When you drop the need to “feel safe”, let your ego go, the world and the people in it, don’t seem nearly as scary.
You will still have problems of course, but given your focus will be less on conformity and more about experience, you will gain an ability to solve problems with much less friction – in fact it will become a lot of fun.
The fear of being lonely or “losing someone” will never impact who you decide to associate with. You will naturally gravitate to and draw in people when you need them. People who don’t empower your life will drop away. You will make the decision to not participate in the “drama” of interpersonal relationships, which so many people in the world today are addicted to.
Once you let go and expand your universe, suddenly the vastness and potential – including all the amazing people you could surround yourself with – will inspire you to make new friends and build a social structure that reinforces the changes you want to make in your life.
In short, you will stop acting in fear because of your narrow viewpoint and start acting with a sense of wonder and possibility because you can see the world is much more dynamic than it used to be. Instead of being trapped into a box, you will see that the world is too large for you to ever understand completely, so will seek to challenge your reality without being encumbered by what other people think or standards of behavior you used to adhere to.
One area where people suffer from ignorance is how you create problems when they don’t really exist. Or, using our new understanding of what is truth, you might choose to see a situation as a problem, where alternative interpretations could see the situation as an opportunity.
No matter how bad a situation is, you always have the choice to see it as something beneficial.
If we take what most people on this planet would consider a pretty bad situation – you’re stricken down with a disease that is going to kill you – even this can be interpreted as something positive. You’re going to die, that means you’re going to find out what it means to be no longer in your body and find out what happens next. This, for a curious person, could be the most exciting adventure ever experienced in life.
Here’s something you have to accept – death is an experience you’re going to go through, so you can suffer this fact, or frame it as something you face with courage, curiosity and a sense of fluidity – you will surrender to it, rather than fight it. The choice is up to you.
If we look at less finite “problems” in life, things like not having enough money, or not having a romantic partner, or wanting to lose weight, or move to a better city, or find a new social circle, or stop feeling depressed, or to quit smoking, or start waking up earlier, or buy a car, or stop being afraid to fly in airplanes, or fall pregnant, or leave your marriage, or become famous, or pretty much any change whatsoever you want to make in your life, the same rules apply.
Every situation above can be looked at as something you are “suffering” from, with the frame of what you stand to lose or what you will never have. Or these things can be completely re-framed as opportunities for new experiences, or as a challenge to find an alternative solution, or even as a point of self-reflection to figure out exactly why you want something so much, or why you fear losing something so much, etc.
Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is in constant flux and the only reason you choose to feel or do something in any given moment is because you choose to, nothing is making you do it. The situation you are in is not the reason you feel as you do, it’s merely a set of circumstances you are choosing to react to in a certain way. If you can’t see a good way to interpret something and a “way out”, then you’re simply addicted to being a certain way – you’re too ignorant of your own behavior and mindset to change. It’s entirely your fault.
That could hurt a little, but I hope you see it as more liberating than painful.
When I face problems in my life I have benefited from reminding myself of one of life’s constants –
Change is permanent.
I love the dichotomy in that statement. I could have said that change is constant, which is is, but there’s something compelling when you realize the only thing that will never change is change itself.
The practical implication of this understanding further enhances the importance of how you interpret every single moment and thought in your life. Everything is going to change, the situation that you are suffering from right now will not last forever.
Death ensures this. You won’t be lonely forever because you’re going to die. You won’t be married forever because you’re going to die. You won’t be sick forever because you’re going to die. You won’t be young, beautiful, rich, poor, hungry, full, tired, bored, frustrated, angry, bitter, happy, sad, relaxed, excited, joyful, retired, employed, or anything forever, because you are going to die.
Yah, morbid I know. This realization could be about as depressing as it gets, but again – that’s a choice you’re most welcome to make if you like.
I recommend instead that you see death as the greatest reason to always interpret life in a powerful and positive manner, unless of course, you enjoy suffering.
Any problem you have right now doesn’t exist and will disappear, I promise you this with a 100% guarantee. It will change – and to relax a little after all that talk of death, many of the changes you want in life will occur while you are alive. You don’t have to die to rid yourself of your problems, you can do it right now.
Problem solving begins with first understanding what your problem is really about. I hope, by reading this article to this point, you understand that your problems aren’t really as severe as they are, or really aren’t problems at all.
If you have previously focused energy on what you don’t have and don’t like, it’s time to change that to focusing on what you are doing to make the change you want happen.
You now have the power to never again suffer from your own ignorance. Open your mind to possibility and opportunity and get excited about all the positive changes you could experience in your life in the very near future.
With this new found mindset, the next step is to take the appropriate actions that lead to your desired goals. To make this as practical as possible, here’s a process that can lead you to any change you want to make happen in your life. Remember to apply everything you learned in this article, and the previous in this series, as you go about creating positive change in your life.
While you go through this process, keep in mind your view of the world, including your insights and your ignorances, are helping and hindering your progress. The more you increase your awareness and decrease your ignorance, the easier your life will be and the less friction you will face as you make change.
In the next and final chapter in my series on positive change, I’m going to tie in everything you’ve learned so far and leave you with I believe is the single most important insight you can gain from this series.
While everything I’ve talked about so far has been about you helping yourself, you obviously don’t exist in isolation. There is an entire universe that is influencing you, but perhaps more importantly, you are influencing it.
You’re going to see that it’s not just for your own benefit that you need to adopt these positive change principles. It goes much deeper than that.
I’ll give you the final piece of the puzzle very soon…
Update: Part 5 is now available: How I Realized My Sense Of Self and Why It Changed My Life Forever