Monday, July 23, 2007

How To Be Okay With It

A funny thing happened to me on the treadmill this morning.  I had been trotting along for about five minutes, when I suddenly began feeling very hungry.

Now usually I try to exercise first thing in the morning, precisely because 20 minutes of exercise usually suppresses the low-level hunger I feel when I wake up, and keeps it from turning into a stronger hunger.  This morning, however, I'd made the mistake of checking (and answering) my email before getting on the treadmill.

And for a moment I was a bit bummed out by this.  I glanced down at the treadmill timer, seeing that it was probably going to be another 15 minutes before I could count on the hunger suppression effect kicking in, and I prepared to be miserable for those 15 minutes.

Then I found myself wondering what would have happened to a primitive man, up first thing in the morning and running across a field, chasing down his breakfast.  Surely it wouldn't have been helpful for hunger to distract him from his running, I thought.

There must be some mechanism, I concluded, for shutting off distracting urges in the presence of a more important goal.  Some way for the brain to say, "it's okay, don't worry about it, we'll have some food momentarily".

And as soon as I thought that...

My Hunger Disappeared!

Well, not exactly.  What happened was that the urgency of the signal went away.  I was still hungry, if I thought about it, but it wasn't bothering or distracting me any more.  I was free to continue my run in peace, until the suppression effect kicked in.

And I used most of that time to think about what I had just done, quickly realizing that I'd discovered another way of applying a technique I taught in my Reality Next Door workshop.

In that lecture, I talked about how we have a part of our brain that I call the "Guardian of Territories", that regulates what we notice and pay attention to.  In a sense, it's like an eager executive assistant that monitors threats and opportunities relating to whatever is considered you, or your "territory", including your possessions, reputation, associates and loved ones, etc.

And any threat detected by the Guardian results in an alert to your conscious mind, causing you to "notice" or be "bothered" by something.

The thing is, just like any good executive assistant, all the Guardian wants from us is to either handle the situation, or...

Take responsibility for letting it be!

Now, in The Reality Next Door and a more recent group coaching session, I've been teaching this as a technique for claiming territory you don't have yet.  For example, I've been coaching a man who wants to make $100K/year as a web designer, helping him develop confidence about being able to "ask for the sale".

You see, fear and uncertainty in a social situation -- or any situation -- is basically the Guardian going on alert, warning of problems.  All he needed to do, however, to shut off these alerts, is to...  well, it's best if you listen to the recordings for the details, as they're different for handling future social situations (like contemplating asking for more money) than they are for handling present physical situations (like my hunger on the treadmill).

In general, however, the principle is the same.  Convince the Guardian that the situation is "okay", and the alert goes away.  The Guardian "stands down" from interrupting you, and merely keeps you aware of changes in the situation.

So in the case of the treadmill incident this morning, what happened was pretty simple.  In the process of thinking "it's okay, don't worry about it", I accidentally answered the Guardian.

Have you ever walked up to someone you didn't know was on the phone, and then they said something and you thought they were talking to you?  That's apparently what happened here.  The Guardian took my thought about an imaginary caveman hunting breakfast, and thought I was indeed saying that...

"It's okay, don't worry about it"

Now, I'm not saying you can lie to the Guardian, and pretend to be okay with something you're really not okay with.  The reason it worked by accident is because the hunger actually was okay with me, as I knew that my exercise would soon free up some stored fat.  (I just hadn't thought of deliberately telling the Guardian about that!)

However, let's say that I was in my student's situation, contemplating asking his first web design client to write him a big fat check.  And I was afraid of being laughed out of the office, or yelled at.

In that situation, without doing the additional steps I taught him to do, I would most definitely not be "okay with it", and merely telling the Guardian that I was, would not have any effect.  I would still be scared out of my wits.

You see, it's not the words that are magic (which is why affirmations don't always work).  It's your honest assessment of the situation that counts.  If you can legitimately contemplate the worst consequences of the "alert" and say, "It's okay, I can handle it," then the Guardian will...

Back Off At Once!

Case in point: a few days ago I was working on writing this month's Life Without Struggle newsletter for the Owners' Circle.  It usually takes me 4-5 hours for the writing alone, and at least that much more time to do the pictures, captions, and layout.  So I don't usually do it all in one day.

This time, however, I really wanted to get the whole thing done a week earlier than usual, but work had been spilling into longer hours that week, and so I hadn't started when I planned to .  So I decided that this time, there would be no distractions, and I would simply write and assemble the entire thing in one go.

And time and time again, I would be distracted by one thing or another.  "Oh, now might be a good time to check email."  "Oh, maybe there's something cool to read on Reddit or Bloglines."

And each time I had one of those thoughts, I'd simply think, "Yeah, but I want to finish the newsletter."  And the distracting thought would go away for an hour or so, until the next time I had a lull in the rhythm of writing.

So, in this case, the "alerts" were really more about "opportunities" than "threats", but the point is that they can still be made to go away, simply by deciding that something else was more important.  Like clicking "Cancel" or "Close" on an annoying pop-up window advertising something you don't really need.

And as I was walking on the treadmill this morning, thinking about all of these things, I was struck by the realization that all of this stuff actually has...

The Formal Structure of Zen Meditation

See, when you meditate, you pay attention to something, like the rising and falling of your breath.  And then, when distracting thoughts or sensations arise, you simply acknowledge them and return to your task.  Sort of like, "Yes, I accept that communication from my mind or body, and now I'm returning to my meditation, which is more important."  (Only without saying any of that.)

And that would certainly explain why meditation can improve your ability to both be calm and to concentrate, since you are practicing telling the Guardian that everything is going to be okay... over and over again.  Making it more likely to be your default response in a given situation.

See, the thing is, the Guardian just wants to protect you.  If you're in a social situation where you believe you're intruding on someone else's turf, it wants you to act fearful and submissive, in order to keep you from getting killed or ostracized.

Remember that for our ancestors, expulsion from a group could mean either death or loss of opportunity to reproduce -- which from a genetic point of view is...

A Fate Even Worse Than Death!

So, understanding what the Guardian wants for you, and how to communicate your intentions and priorities to it, are of critical importance if you want to develop confidence in any situation where you're currently uncomfortable.  And it's equally important for developing the ability to start things and follow through, even in the face of discomfort or distraction.

In fact, communicating "okayness" to the Guardian is the essence of willpower, concentration, and all other forms of "self-discipline".  Which is why all of the emotional management techniques I teach, like Emotion Elimination and the Gateway Of Desire, are designed to help you become "okay" with things that you're currently not okay with.

Remember, you cannot lie to your Guardian.  It is not your words that count, but your honest assessment of the situation.

For example, sometimes people come to me and plead special circumstances of why I should teach them some technique or allow them to attend some workshop without charge.

Now, I do not need anyone's money or patronage, so in theory there is nothing that would stop me from permitting this.  Except, of course, for my desire not to cheat that person out of...

An Opportunity to Really Change!

You see, the problem with trying to get something for nothing, is that the Guardian is not fooled.  It knows that if you've decided you can't "afford" a few hundred dollars to attend a workshop or get a personal consultation, this means your honest assessment is that you don't really intend to change!

See, if procrastination, perfectionism, or other blocks are eating away at your life, it's costing you thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in money you're not earning and dreams you're not achieving.  So the only possible reason you can't "afford" something, is if you believe it's not going to make any difference.

But the people asking to get into the workshops, apparently believe the workshop itself is valuable.  What they're really doing, is believing that they are still going to find a way to fail, even if they take the workshop.

And to be quite honest, if that's your attitude, I really don't want you in my workshops, because it's going to drag me and the other participants down with you!

Not only that, but after nothing changes in your life, you'll write off the workshop as yet another thing that didn't help you, even though it's you who simply wasn't ready yet.  And now, it'll be even harder for you to change, because you'll be out looking for some new thing that's supposed to help you!

The simple scientific truth is that no form of self-help or even psychiatry will help somebody who just doesn't...

Expect And Intend To Change

The Guardian is not fooled by your wishes and wants.  It is your intention and expectation that it listens to.  Without that, nothing will work for you.  Period.

I experienced this phenomenon myself last February, when I considered taking what I considered at the time a very expensive coaching program ($1000/month).  The difficulty I was having was that I was expecting to fail, even if I took the coaching.  I was afraid I might not follow through, and not end up making any money.  So of course I didn't want to spend any money on the program!

But once I got clear that I intended and expected to succeed, and was willing to pay the price -- not just in money, but in dedication to the learning process -- the Guardian let up.  I stopped worrying, and got coaching.

And I'm not going to say that you're going to get overnight success from doing this, any more than I did.  But since I took that step, I've self-published a book, and produced over thirty hours of recorded workshops and done numerous coaching sessions that have helped dozens of people make big changes in their lives.  And I never would have gotten past my perfectionism or procrastination or fear of selling to do any of those things otherwise.

As I tell people in my workshops, I had to learn to bet on myself.  Even in such a small thing as my hunger on the treadmill, the Guardian responds to your confidence in your ability to handle something.  The trick is...

You Have To Bet On Yourself First

See, you don't get to be confident first, then bet on yourself.  When I chose to bet $1000/month on myself by investing in coaching, my confidence increased because I made that bet.  Not the other way around!

If you don't believe in yourself even enough to think you have the potential for change, you won't take action to change.  Because the Guardian won't let you place bets you don't really believe in.

But if you are ready to change your life in a big way, then I encourage you to bet big.  You don't have to get your coaching or workshops from me; there are plenty of ways to get specialized training in this day and age.

However, if you want to really understand how to work with your Guardian to develop confidence and control, there are very few people besides me in this world who not only know it exists and how it works, but can also explain it in a way that people who haven't experienced it yet can understand.

You see, most self-help tips and techniques are actually directed at influencing the Guardian in one way or another, but it's hard to get motivated to apply them, if you don't really understand what they're for.  I have literally hundreds of books in my house, full of such exercises and techniques, but before I understood the nature of the Multiple Self and the Guardian, I got little benefit from any of them, because I had no basis for...

Believing In Them!

And so, I didn't do them.

But when I teach these techniques, I don't teach them blindly.  I don't say, "just do this thing and it'll all be better" -- even when it's true!

Instead, I make sure you know why the technique is important, because I know that understanding does more for a smart person's motivation than any amount of preaching or testimony as to how great it's going to be if only you "follow my instructions three times a day".

And that's why, if you're the kind of person who likes to understand the "why and how" of things, I think you'll be better off in my workshops than you will in anyone else's.  If you're just looking for someone to blindly believe in and follow, on the other hand, then I'm probably NOT...

The Right Coach For You

My next teleconference workshop is this weekend, and it's called "From Action to Satisfaction: Replacing Empty Goals with True Fulfillment".  In it, I'll be helping people understand how to determine their true priorities, and communicate them to their Guardians.

This workshop is open to Full and Associate members of the Owners' Circle, but if you're not currently a member, there is another option. 

In my Reality Next Door workshop, I explained an awful lot about the Guardian and how it works.  And I explained even more in a one-on-one follow-up session with the aspiring web designer I mentioned earlier.

And right now, I'm selling the CDs of that workshop itself for $149, but in order to encourage you to actually do something about changing your life, today, I will add on a few BIG extras...  but only until Tuesday, July 31st.

Change Your Life, Starting Today

First, I'll send you the main workshop CDs, that teach the basic ideas of the Guardian and how to "claim your territory" so that the Guardian knows you mean business about something, and responds by backing you up with feelings of confidence and determination.

Second, I'll also send you a CD of the follow-up session I mentioned above, which will teach you how to rapidly overcome social anxieties caused by lack of confidence in your worth or value to others.

I'm probably going to sell this CD by itself for at least $79 at some point, and it's worth much more than that if your lack of confidence is stopping you from being paid what you deserve or being able to talk to people you're attracted to.

Third, I'll also include a free one month trial of Associate level membership in the Circle, which would normally cost you $99.  But it includes this month's "Life Without Struggle" newsletter and "Secret Of Finding Your Center" CD, as well as call-in access for this weekend's "Action to Satisfaction" workshop.

It even includes a "backstage pass" to the members-only areas of the Pathfinders' Forum, where Circle members and I discuss whatever's on our minds -- from developing new "mind hacking" techniques to getting past sticking points with the old.

A Risk-Free Chance To Change For Good

After your risk-free 30-day trial, you can cancel your membership and keep everything you've received -- including all of the workshop CDs,  the newsletter, and the "Secret Of Finding Your Center" CD, plus the MP3 recording of this weekend's workshop, without paying a single penny more.

OR, if you're happy with what the Circle is bringing into your life, just do nothing, and your membership will be automatically renewed, so you can keep increasing your self-mastery, self-confidence, and sense of joy and fulfillment, each and every month from here on out.

Now, if you had signed up last month or sooner for The Reality Next Door, like so many other people did, you'd have gotten a similar package for only $99 instead of $149.  So the price has now gone up, and it's going to keep going up.

You're not saving yourself any money by waiting around, any more than you're improving your life by just "thinking about" changing.  You have to actually do something in order to change!

So why not do it, already?  Place a bet on yourself, and tell the Guardian you really do expect to change.  Sign up now.

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