Part 1 of a two-part episode where we talk about the 10 life lessons that, if implemented, lead to peace and fulfillment. So many of us simply live day to day, trying to make the next day as good as the last, or better. The day to day can be fulfilling, or it can be grueling. If it’s the latter, it’s possible that there is a primal need at your deepest level not getting fulfilled. If that’s the case, it will be harder to attain the peace and balance you may be looking for.
This episode covers the first 5 of the lessons, and helps you understand what you may need to focus on to create a happier life for yourself. My goal is to help you become empowered so that you can create the life you want.
Visit theoverwhelmedbrain.com/books and get my eBook, “Clear The Path To Happiness”. It’s about what you can do to clear all the obstacles that prevent you from being as happy as you deserve. Reveal what’s been inside you all along by visiting theoverwhelmedbrain.com/books
About a year ago, I’d end every episode of this show with the words, “Now go create your life!”
That’s because I wanted you to feel empowered to create the life you want. And if you didn’t feel empowered, I wanted you to listen to more episodes until you did. And if you listened enough, there’d eventually be a subject matter that hit home with you and give you just the right information to help you take the first step to creating the life you want.
A lot of us believe that in order to create our lives, we need to make more money. So we get a job so that we can buy things and take vacations. But soon we figure out that after the vacation is over and the novelty of something new wears off, we’re back to where we started.
The challenge is that where we started isn’t always where we want to be. In between having new experiences and buying new things, we are in what I call “homeostasis”. It’s that balance point between the highs and lows. That middle of the road place where you are living your daily life.
For some people, they have a great life. Homeostasis is a fulfilling place and something to look forward to everyday.
For others, homeostasis is a challenge. They have continual struggles day in and day out and after the vacation is over their good feelings go away.
So I wanted to create a specific episode that covers what I believe are the most important lessons to learn in life that will help you create a new homeostatic state; A more enriching and rewarding balanced state that is a pleasure to return to instead of a tiring, weary place of existence.
In order to do that, there are changes that you can make in your life to start actually creating the life you want, instead of having life create itself around you. There’s nothing good or bad about life happening around you, but sometimes you want to be a part of the creative process, instead of just an observer that is continually surprised by what life can bring. Good surprises can be fun, for sure. But the not-so-good ones are what I’m referring to here.
The goal of today’s episode is to help you get the tools you need so that you can create the life you want. I have a personal belief that much of what prevents us from being as fulfilled and happy as we can be is that we haven’t learned to process and release all the negative thoughts and emotions from our past. I call these our roadblocks to happiness, because the road is there but if it’s blocked, we won’t be able to obtain happiness no matter what we do. We might get a glimpse of it here and there, but true, underlying and consistent fulfillment and satisfaction will evade us if the road is never cleared of the obstacles.
That’s one of the main reasons I wrote the book, “Clear The Path To Happiness”, because so many people think happiness is something you try to get in life, not reveal. When you clear out these emotional roadblocks, happiness does reveal itself from within.
I remember when I started releasing the unexpressed negative emotions from my past. I discovered opportunities that I didn’t know existed, so a new world began to unfold before me. I realized that what I thought brought me peace and fulfillment were just quick fixes. I didn’t get long-term fulfillment from quick gains, I got quick “highs” that made me think my life had improved somehow.
Have you ever done that? A good example of this is when I worked with someone I really didn’t like. I complained about him, and always hoped he’d just quit so I wouldn’t have to deal with him anymore. Well the day came when he quit, and I was elated! He was gone, and I was happy again. But, it didn’t last. Eventually, the company hired someone else that I didn’t like, and I was back to square one.
I got a quick high from him being gone, but nothing inside me changed so no matter what, anyone that rubbed me the wrong way would once again cause me to be unhappy. I thought my life improved when he left (which it did, I can’t deny), but the improvement was something that happened outside of me, instead of inside of me.
In other words, my happiness was dependent on external events outside my control instead of any changes I made inside of me. I could have looked at what was going on inside of me when I felt any bad feelings about my co-worker, but decided instead to rely on him leaving instead of me growing and learning.
This is a tricky place to be, because when you look outside of yourself waiting for the world to change, you are usually setting yourself up for disappointment.
Depending on external circumstances for your peace and fulfillment is a path to unhappiness
So it’s important to dive inward and learn what it takes to avoid depending on external circumstances for you to progress in life. Peace and fulfillment within leads to being able to handle everything else outside of your control with less stress and more patience and tolerance. This is an episode to help you build and strengthen your foundation so that life doesn’t take advantage of your weaknesses.
Would you like some empowerment? Yeah, thought so…
I worked with a guy named Mike about 15 years ago that truly believed that he was getting treated unfairly at work. He said he wasn’t getting paid enough, so because of that, he’d cut corners on the job. He would take long breaks and work as little as possible, and said he would continue doing that until the company recognized that he was worth more.
I don’t know if you can see the irony in this already, but it was so clear to me when he would share things like this. After all, is it possible to get recognized and make more money when you have a poor attitude, poor work performance, and little results? Typically, no. But he thought he already put in his time, so he became bitter.
And instead of proving his worth by working harder or helping others, he became more selfish and took as much time off as possible while doing as little work as possible.
I remember laughing about this because he truly believed that he was proving a point, and that they’d eventually give him a raise. I also remember that I started working there a year after he did, and it didn’t take long for me to surpass him in both pay and position.
The difference between me and him was that I put on an mentality that I was working as if I were the highest paid employee, and that I was a part owner of the company.
Neither of those were true, yet I chose that mentality because that is the type of person I am. Mike (that was his name) on the other hand was the type of person that expected the world to conform to him, and he waited for events to happen instead of making them happen.
He became the victim, and chose to further amplify his victimhood by becoming less of who he was instead of more. When I stayed late, he left early. When I would ask others if they needed help, he would be taking a break. Whenever there was an opportunity, he’d work less, and I’d work more.
That doesn’t mean one should work more, I’m just comparing him and I to show you how one mindset leads down one path and another mindset leads down an entirely different path.
When I started, I was calling him to help me out, and he was happy to do so. As I became more skilled at my job, he started calling me to help him out, which I was also happy to do. But the longer I worked there, the more disgruntled he got. He felt he wasn’t getting paid enough, so instead of honoring his own personal boundaries and confronting his boss about his low wage, he decided to be passive aggressive and do less work hoping someone would notice and just give him a raise.
His mentality was based on the hope that others would do something for him, instead of him doing something for others. Another way to look at it is that he tried to get results by relying on people to notice him instead of him taking extra steps to get noticed.
And the longer he slacked off, the less desirable he became. He was working himself out of a job.
I’ve been guilty of this before, but I was only 17 at the time. I worked at a K-Mart, and I was hired on to run the register in the sports department. I really, really didn’t enjoy this job. But, it was money, and I continued to go because that’s what was paying for my entertainment expenses at the time. Hey, I was a teenager and wasn’t worried about saving for a rainy day back then.
But I remember having no motivation to go to work. And when I got there, I simply didn’t want to work. I did work, but only doing the minimum of what was required. Like Mike, I felt entitled to earn more because I felt I was worth more, so I did less. Again, it was ironic how I thought that by doing less, I’d get noticed and my wages would increase.
Well, eventually, my work performance did get noticed, and I was promptly let go. I was shocked! Why would they let me go? I did everything they asked! And during the exit interview, I got a chance to give them a piece of my mind by writing down my thoughts in the “Comments” section at the bottom of the form.
I wrote something to the effect of, ‘I didn’t know you were comparing me to other employees when you hired me. If I had known, I would have worked harder’ or something silly like that.
When I think back on it, I remember what I brought to the table. I thought that by just showing up, that was more than enough to satisfy their requirements of an employee. But what I didn’t take into account is that I actually have to show up in all other areas of my life too. Not only did my physical body have to be there, but my motivation and enthusiasm had to be there too. Also my desire to learn new things, and my compassion for other people.
There are so many different aspects of ourselves that can show up if we let them, but I only let one or two of mine appear because I simply didn’t care about my job. And, more importantly, thought I deserved more simply because I clocked in and did minimal tasks all day long.
That’s how Mike was: He showed up, did as little as possible, took lots of breaks, and went home as early as possible. He did work, and sometimes he got things done, but he never brought any other aspects of himself into the picture because he felt he wasn’t getting paid enough.
Today’s episode is about strengthening some core level aspects of yourself in order for you to show up and be the best person you can be. Well, it’s a lot more than that actually, because when you can show up authentically in all the areas I talk about today, you actually bring more peace and fulfillment into your life.
Your levels of happiness and satisfaction actually increase when you are spending less time hiding and more time being. Being what is the question. What do you bring to the table? Who are you most of the time?
Who we are is defined at a much deeper level. And how we show up determines our level of satisfaction in life. Yes, how we show up is what determines that, not what shows up in our lives, necessarily. I mean, if Mr. or Mrs. Perfect showed up, or you won lots of money, or even if there were no more hunger and disease, you’d still show up to the world as who you are right now.
And if you have any underlying negativity going on, then it’s challenging to access that place inside of you that is grateful for what you have in the world. This is what happened to Mike. He had a lot of potential to grow with that company, but he wasn’t capable of being grateful for where he was, and was especially ungrateful for how the world was treating him.
We’re not really talking about gratitude today, but gratitude may be a side effect of today’s episode, simply because if you truly implement these life’s lessons, you will start to feel grateful for everything that happens in your life – even the bad stuff.
There is a perspective that changes within you when you choose to learn and grow from your challenges instead of seeing them as purposeful kicks in the face. Today is a learn and grow episode, and you deserve to have the opportunity to create the life you want. So let’s get to the 10 life lessons, or at least the first 5 because this is part one, that you can implement to lead you to peace and fulfillment.
So here they are, the 10 lessons to learn in life that, if you really take action and implement them, you’ll find more peace and fulfillment than you’ve ever had. I’m not saying that these are easy, but I can tell you that they work, even when they appear contrary to what you think may work.
Of course, every single situation in your life is different. So, it doesn’t mean you apply all of these to everything in life. All I’m doing here is giving you a blanket of ideas – a philosophy – so that you can start applying them in small doses to the different areas of life to see how they work for you.
If you try something, and it works, you can try it again, or do it in other scenarios. There is no one-stop shopping in life, as everything is an experiment to figure out what works best for you. And that’s important for you to know:
You will be the only person to know what works best for you!
So if you think I’m claiming to have all the answers to life’s challenges, well I might think I do sometimes, but I am cognizant of my own ignorance of the universe, so I move forward in life humbly and observant just in case something comes along that proves me wrong.
And that leads to our first lesson:
- Stay open to being wrong about your beliefs
I had an entire episode on this very subject, it’s called “Knowing is a Box – The Commitment to Open-Mindedness”
Well, I guess not the entire episode, but I did talk about this point in that episode. When you are open to being wrong, you actually allow yourself to believe what you believe 100%, and continue believing it as long as you want. However, you’re also open to getting it pointed out to you in some way that you could be wrong about your belief.
It might sound strange if you’ve never heard this concept before, but if you allow it to sink in and you really adopt it, it frees you. It really does. You feel like you are allowed to believe what you believe, and free to change those beliefs if they no longer serve you.
It’s the best of both worlds, but don’t tell anyone (ha ha!) because you can still speak with conviction about your beliefs, then change them if they don’t work.
I think what happens with some people is that they fear they’ll look foolish if they believe in something then are found out to be wrong about those beliefs. I say, “So what!” The more you are willing to be open about new knowledge, the more intelligent you are. Period.
We have to have belief so that we aren’t slowed down questioning everything that happens. Sometimes we just have to believe in things so that life can flow, instead of chug along with delay after delay.
In other words, beliefs make life easier so that we don’t get stuck in thought all the time. Imagine if you had to question your belief about the availability of oxygen to breath all the time? If you woke up, wondering if there was still oxygen to breath every morning, your life would likely get much more complicated.
So, it’s easier to choose to believe there will be oxygen so you don’t have to think about it. Belief brings ease into our life. So if something comes along that questions that belief, we typically don’t want to entertain a possible new belief. But if you do, knowing that a new belief might actually serve you better than an existing belief, why not try it out? It might make life a lot easier!
- Let go of the drama
Drama is what happens when you don’t know how to express yourself constructively. It stems from childhood, or actually, probably since birth. We were born not knowing how to communicate, so we cried when we wanted something.
Take that, add language, and you have drama. Of course, when we’re children, we’re still learning how to communicate our needs to the world, so we may sound whiny or highly emotional over seemingly silly things. But as kids, even a balloon can have significant emotional value to us.
I love the joke that comedian Brian Regan told about this. It’s so perfect because it gives you a whole new perspective on the difference between how children view the world and how adults view it.
Here it is, it’s so perfect to go along with this talking point:
(click here for Brian Regan clip – not transcribed)
Ha ha! I just love his stand-up. He’s very observant, and dead on about the way children perceive as opposed to adults. As an adult, we might think the child is being dramatic, but think about some adults you know who might act this way in a different situation.
Drama usually happens when you mix in some sort of negative emotion with your message. When you invite drama into your communication, it makes you sound like that child crying about his balloon floating away.
Almost all of us have done this of course. I did it just the other day in fact. I heard someone telling a lot of derogatory jokes and I was starting to get a little ticked off. The guy asked me, “Aren’t these funny?” and I replied with “No, I think they’re awful and racist. I don’t find them funny at all!”
After I said it, I realized immediately that I was triggered. I actually went a little unconscious and let whatever was brewing in my brain to blurt out and come off as angry.
Sure, I could have been angry, but was it necessary to sound so agitated? You might be thinking, “Well, yes! If they are racist jokes, you should be angry!” And while I don’t disagree, should I allow that emotion to take over, and words to come out that make me appear as if I can’t control myself?
This is probably not the best example, because some people would definitely speak up like I did and close that person down as soon as possible. But what I felt afterward was the important part. I felt as if I lost control. I felt like I got triggered, but couldn’t control what I was saying.
Regardless of the inappropriate jokes I heard, I should have calmly stated, “No, I don’t find those types of jokes funny.” Not because I wanted to avoid confrontation, but to avoid losing control while in a negative space.
This is what happens when people lose their temper. The emotion kicks in, and they go unconscious allowing the stream of unconscious thought to come pouring out, no matter what. In anger, this can become highly dramatic and even scary.
The reason I say to let go of the drama is because you want to start training your brain to respond more productively and proactively. Whenever you respond to things in life with drama, it usually evokes emotion in the other person, creating more drama. Drama can be heated debate which can turn into arguments and fighting.
Drama is the impetus for rage and many other states. Remember, drama is when you are not expressing yourself constructively. It’s the mixture of negative emotions and both conscious and unconscious thoughts. It’s that similarity to childhood that, when you are being dramatic, makes you look like a child.
Of course, I’m not just talking about losing your temper either. I’m also referring to the more popular overly emphasized complaining or worrying people do. Like that clip I played a while back from the Judge Judy TV show where the plaintiff was crying and crying over her furniture, and Judge Judy reminded her that it’s just “stuff”!
She said, “Why are you crying when you have a healthy boy next to you? He’s alive and healthy, and you’re crying over stuff!” The woman was sobbing and sobbing over some material items and completely lost site of the fact that she had a wonderfully healthy son right next to her, alive and well.
That’s what drama does, it forces us down a road of ungratefulness, if that’s a word. When we behave with lots of drama about frivolous things, we are getting away from what’s really important, and placing value on what’s trivial. Drama helps us forget about what’s truly important in our lives and enlarges problems to the extreme.
It’s also a path to immediate regression into a small child. Regression is defined as a return to a former or less developed state. In psychology, it’s when an adult client reverts to a child-like state, as if they were experiencing the world from a child’s perspective.
That’s why I felt bad after my dramatic response to the guy telling those racist jokes. It’s not that I wasn’t right, nor was I invalidating my thoughts and feelings, it was that I regressed to a child-like state. As a full grown adult, I don’t want to take a giant leap backwards in my mentality.
I’d like to think nowadays that I’ve let go of the drama, and have learned to live and respond to the world from a more mature place. But, it seems that our inner child is always in there just wanting to come out.
It makes sense too, because that’s the part of us that likes to play and be entertained. There’s nothing wrong with having fun, being entertained, or even just crying over something tiny. What’s good to practice however is curbing the drama when you can.
There are times when a little drama can convey a message well, so it’s not a matter of releasing it completely. It’s a matter of being in conscious control of it. Letting go of drama means to be consciously aware of your emotional state before taking action or communicating your message.
That might mean you take 1 or 2 extra seconds before responding sometimes. I still encourage full expression when possible, but in a more constructive manner. Meaning, if you can convey the same message without sounding like you’re a child who just lost their balloon, you might find that your life goes easier.
Not because you’re in control, but because of the responses you get from others. Without the drama, people are less likely to act from a defensive place. Or, they might respond to you like an adult when they experience “adult behavior”, for lack of a better label. This can lead to very productive and proactive conversations, and may actually help you to get your needs met way more often than going unconscious and letting the flow of thoughts and emotions spill all over the place.
Drama works great when there’s a purpose. Stay in conscious control of your drama, and utilize it instead of letting it take over.
The next life lesson to help you should already know is
- Let other people be themselves
One of the most important relationship tips I’ve ever learned is to let other people be who they want to be. Whether that’s in a romantic relationship, a friendship, or even with family. The more you attempt to control or shape someone into someone they are not, the more resistance and resentment will build in them.
Think about it. When you think about someone coming along and telling you what to wear, who to date, what to believe, how much money you should spend, where you should spend that money, what you should think or not think, on and on and on, do you get that warm, comfortable feeling inside? Or do you feel kind of offended or angry?
Most people want to be who they are, unless they are lost and need guidance. But even then, most people want to just be who they are. There’s really no other way to say it. This was an incredibly important lesson I learned in my marriage.
One of the biggest breakdowns in my marriage and in, well, almost all of my former relationships, was my attempt to control the person I was with. Over the 28 years I’ve been in relationships, I’ve done the following to attempt to control my partner:
-Got jealous when she talked to other guys
-Got possessive when she wanted to go out with friends, making her feel guilty for wanting to spend time with other people and not me
-Literally cried when my first girlfriend broke up with me, winning her back by making her feel guilty about breaking up
-Judged what she ate
-Judged how much she exercised or worked
-Judged how much money she made (yeah, I had a lot of judgment issues)
-And much, much more.
These were with the different partners I’ve been with over the years, but I finally learned after my divorce the one thing I never did that would have saved me from most of my breakups, and especially my divorce, is to let the person I am with to be who they want to be.
That means anything. That means, if she wants to join a biker gang, let her join and support her decision! If she wants to get a tattoo on her face, let her do it and support it! If that means she wants to eat anything she wants and smoke cigarettes and drink lots of alcohol, let her do it!
Now, do I really support any or all of these things? Well, that’s the real question isn’t it? Of course, you don’t blindly support what might not be “good” for someone, because in a relationship, you talk about things and come to a mutual decision if possible. But, sometimes you don’t agree and can’t come to a mutual decision.
For example, when I was married, my wife was looking into finding out more about a particular religion that had a very cultish vibe. She liked what she read about them, but I was very against it. I knew a lot about this religion and didn’t want her to join because by doing so, I knew I would be alienated.
If I wasn’t a member, I knew that the deeper she got into it, the more likely we’d clash on many of our viewpoints. I also knew that the members of this religion did a lot of mental conditioning and isolating of their new members, so it would be very difficult for her to leave even if she wanted to.
It’s true, I had a strong bias against this organization, and wanted nothing to do with them. But she was so excited to look into it, so I had a dilemma. I wanted to support her, but simply couldn’t. So… I put my foot down and told her all I knew about them, and that if she joined it would cause a problem in our relationship.
It sounds terrible, I know, because it’s so much the opposite of what I just mentioned about letting others be themselves. However, I was willing to take the consequence of breaking up if she joined because I was honoring my own personal boundaries.
This is where it gets really important for you to know through and through what you are willing to accept in your life. If you are open, loving and supporting, than most anything anyone else does will be okay with you. And if you’re not okay with it, you can usually learn to become okay with it.
But if they do something that will affect you or your relationship with them, then you need to make a choice for yourself. Not for them. For you. You need to decide if you will be affected and if you can handle it. I decided that I absolutely did not want this particular religion in my family. My personal opinion was that they were dangerous and would only be harmful.
It was the first and last time I put my foot down on something she wanted to do for herself. I felt terrible, because I felt like I was taking something away from her. But it went against my personal boundaries so strongly, that I was willing to lose my relationship over it.
I was making a decision to not be a part of her life if she went that route. It doesn’t mean I was giving her an ultimatum, it just meant there was a point where my own boundaries were about to get crossed, and I could either allow it and support her fully, or not allow it, and accept the consequences that went along with it.
I felt so strongly against her decision, I chose to not allow it into my life. Yes, it was her life and her decision to make, but I knew I’d be affected drastically if she decided to go through with it.
Now, would she have joined? It’s possible she’d get to the door, and she’d turn around and go back home. It’s just as possible she’d enjoy it and become a member. But, I made my message clear that day. I didn’t want to say I’d leave her, because I didn’t know for sure. I just knew that it would be that intrusive to our relationship.
She could have honored her own boundaries and trusted her judgment and went forward with it, but she decided against it after hearing my comments. She put away all those books, and never looked at them again. She either decided I was right, or it wasn’t worth causing problems in our relationship, or perhaps she felt it was an unfair ultimatum that she resented.
I’m not sure exactly how she felt about it, but I do know that I did choose to not let her be who she wanted to be that day. Well, it’s not that I chose to not let her be, I just let her know that I would not be happy if she joined which is almost the same thing in a more passive aggressive way.
The more you allow someone to be themselves, the closer your relationship will be. The more you judge or criticize what they do, the less safe they will feel around you. If you’ve heard previous episodes, I talk about how judgmental I was towards my wife, except near the end when I finally changed my ways. So, I didn’t have a lot of credibility when I put my foot down on that one issue. I’m sure this made it a harder pill for her to swallow.
Here’s this man she married who judges her who’s now telling her not to do something she wants to do. I’m sure if I wasn’t judging her that whole time before I made a stand, she might have actually trusted me and believed me right away when I told her all the bad stuff I knew about that religion. But instead, she looked dejected and defeated, as if it wasn’t that the religion was bad, but that I was bad for yet another judgment against something she wanted to do.
It’s still important to let others be who they want to be. But there can be a time when what they want to do with their life will affect you. If you can adapt and evolve and be present with them as they go through the changes they need to make, you will allow them to get closer and closer to you. If you can’t, and need to take a stand, just be prepared to walk away from the relationship.
It’s not up to them to conform to you or your standards, it’s up to you to allow them to be who they want to be. This can create a close, safe relationship for the both of you, which allows you to share more and be the other person’s rock whenever needed.
The reason I told you the story about her wanting to join a religious organization I disapproved of was that sometimes the people in our lives do things that violate our boundaries. If your boundaries are truly violated, that could be a clear indication that you need to look out for yourself, first and foremost.
Let other people be who they want to be, trusting and supporting their process. And when you can’t do that, don’t stick around being a thorn in their side… you may not agree with what they are doing, so you may need to get out of the situation if you can.
I may not have agreed with my wife’s intention to join a cult, but if she did, I was fully prepared to leave the situation instead of stick around make her life miserable as I complained about what she did with her time.
This is still supporting the other person, but just removing yourself from the situation which is sometimes what you might need to do when you can’t agree.
The number 4 life lesson you should already know is
- Realize that anger is rarely about the moment
Anger is an indication of something deeper. It occurs when you are triggered by someone or something in your environment. Whether that’s when you spill something on your clothes, or if someone looks at you funny, there is usually an external trigger of some sort that causes you to become angry.
Of course, you can also be angry by something you conjure up in your head too. But regardless of what triggers you, think about what causes you to get angry, and figure out when you felt that same way in the past.
The anger you feel in the moment isn’t about what’s happening right now, it’s about how you learned to become angry in the first place. For example, I got angry at a co-worker once because he wasn’t answering the phones when he should have been. When I think about it now, my anger about that situation ran deeper than just him not doing his job. It stemmed from a place of him doing something that harmed me in some way.
I thought about this situation a while back, and when I dug down to figure out why I was so angry at him, I realized how unfair it felt that I answered the phones, and he didn’t, yet he still got paid. And upon further digging, I remember as a child not getting my fair share of snacks or toys or whatever. I then realized that I felt lack, as if I didn’t have enough to survive or exist and that by having less than someone else, I’d be less healthy or even dead.
Now, I realize it sounds like a total stretch, but if you believe like I do that every decision we make is based on a deep-level, primal need, you start to realize that when we get upset in the present, it is always connected to our conditioning from the past. And, it’s also how we are hardwired for survival.
So, when I got angry about my co-worker, and broke it down to a deep, primal need of some sort, I went from:
- Angry at him
- Feelings of unfairness
- Anger at my boss not seeing the unfairness
- Upset at myself for not telling my boss about my co-worker’s ineptness
- Fear that I will have to work harder to make money now
- A deeper level fear that I might get worn out working harder
- Thinking about being worn-out lead me to being unhealthy
- Being unhealthy means I can’t work
- Not working leads to hunger and probably death
I know, I know, I’m stretching things way beyond logic, but we are hardwired to survive and procreate. And I’m going to stick to my theory that all of our behavior is driven by those primal needs. Even loving someone falls into both of those categories.
You can see how I broke it down going from anger at my co-worker to going hungry and dying. You may or may not agree with it, but think about how it changes the reality of the situation. My anger isn’t really about him in that moment, it’s about me wanting to survive and exist in the world. It’s about me wanting to prosper and be healthy, so that I can continue to live comfortably.
When you can adopt this philosophy, you start noticing all the little things you get angry about are actually internal fears of some sort brewing up from the depths. They are deep-rooted programs that are always running, driving all of your decisions and behavior.
What seems like a new emotion in the moment has an origin from long ago. We learn to get angry at one point in our life, then we generalize that anger over the many events that happen over time. Anger isn’t about what’s happening now, it’s about what happened the first time you got angry about what you got angry about… if that makes sense.
And why did you ever get angry the first time? Because of that primal need you wanted to fulfill. Who knows what it was? You could have been a baby who didn’t get fed, so you expressed your hunger by crying. Later on, that crying turned into pouting or moping or sadness or anger. We went from laughing and crying as infants, to the plethora of emotions we have today.
But all of those emotions have an origin. We are born wanting to survive and thrive, then we behave based on those primal needs.
So when you get angry, just remember that it’s based on a primal need. Maybe by fulfilling that primal need, you won’t be so angry at things outside of you. Hey, that’s my belief, but I’ll stay open to being wrong about it.
I know it may sound strange to think when my coworker wasn’t answering the phones, I feared dying of hunger because I’d go poor. It’s a huge leap, but remember that every pattern we have within us lies atop another pattern.
If I cried as a baby, then pouted as a child, then learning how to get angry as a young adult, and then you break down the patterns on top of patterns I’ve developed over the many years I’ve been alive, you could almost say that every time I get angry or sad or upset in any way, I’m just like a crying baby. My pattern of getting angry leads back to childhood and how I developed my emotions.
Is this true? I think it is. I know it’s a stretch, but if you can step into yourself and stop blaming those around you for your emotional state, you will find your life improving exponentially by the second.
To top of this list for this episode, here’s number 5,
- Honor your personal boundaries
Talk about an underlying message in almost every episode of The Overwhelmed Brain. Honoring your personal boundaries is one of the most powerful steps to take to create peace and fulfillment in your life.
What does it mean to honor your personal boundaries? Well, since I have an entire episode or two dedicated to this subject already, I won’t get into too much detail. But, the way I look at it is this: If you get that bad feeling, like someone is doing something that makes you feel unsafe in any way, your personal boundaries are likely getting violated.
Your personal boundaries define what you are willing to accept as a part of your life. This means that if you won’t accept abuse in your life, then you make sure you are not abused. If you won’t accept being disrespected, then you make sure you speak up when you are. Well, there are a number of ways to respond to these scenarios, but the point is, you don’t allow violations of your personal boundaries to occur because you love yourself enough to keep that kind of stuff out of your life.
The problem is that sometimes we don’t make it clear what our boundaries actually are, so people cross them without even realizing it. For example, if you’re in an abusive relationship, it’s likely the first time the person abused you surprised you so much, that instead of honoring your boundaries, you chose to stick around and live in fear. Once the boundary is violated, the door is open.
It’s not just abuse, it’s anything really. If you have a boundary that says you deserve to be respected, but your boss yells at you in front of all of your co-workers, that could be seen as a violation of your boundaries.
If that ever happened to me, I’d probably be a smart-ass back, quite honestly. I’d say something like, “Are you going to continue disrespecting me in front of everyone, or can we go into your office and have a mature conversation like adults?”
I honor my boundaries even at the cost of something I need in my life. If I need my job, but I’m disrespected, I have no problem saying or doing things to honor myself first and foremost, even if it costs me my job.
The crazy part is though, every time I’ve felt a need to honor my boundaries, the opposite of what I thought would happen, happened! I’ve spoken up to a couple bosses over the course of my life, and found that I earned more respect and more money doing so. The scenario just played out the entirely opposite way than I expected. This isn’t always the case with every boundary I honor, as sometimes I’ll get exactly what I expect.
But what starts happening when you honor your boundaries is that your unconscious mind begins to move into a more empowered place. When you honor yourself, you start feeling more confident and more self-assured. And people start looking at you differently, wanting to be more like you. They see the leader in you and want to follow you.
It’s not an ego thing at all, it’s just a place that you go that people admire and respect. When I started honoring my boundaries, my life came into alignment. I said “no” more often, and that opened up possibilities for high-quality “yes’s” down the road. I stopped trying to impress people, and started being more compassionate towards myself.
What happens when you are compassionate towards yourself is that you exude compassion to those around you. That’s why I believe it’s impossible to be compassionate towards anyone else until you are first compassionate with yourself.
Honoring your boundaries is really about honoring yourself first and foremost, sometimes at the cost of losing a job or a loved one. That doesn’t mean you have to honor your boundaries every single time with everything, it just means the more you practice, the more you build yourself up to be an authentic person. This authentic self is what we all want to show the world.
It’s a lot easier to be yourself than to hide behind a facade that you want the world to see. Honoring yourself is choosing to be you which is the next item on our list. But we are simply out of time in this episode, so I’m going to save the last 5 life lessons for the next show.
Alright, here’s a quick summary of today’s episode. The life lessons you should already know, and if you know them and implement them, you’ll find peace and fulfillment are:
- Stay open to being wrong about your beliefs
Everything I say could be wrong, but I choose to believe what I say until I’m proven otherwise. Does that make me flakey? Does it instill doubt in your mind about what I’m talking about?
My attitude is “Look at your results”. Try on anything or everything I say and see what works for you. We are all so unique with our own set of challenges. One philosophy doesn’t work for everyone across the board, so improvise for your own situations. Or, think of something I haven’t addressed and see how else you can approach it. Be open to being wrong about your beliefs so that you can feel good believing in what you believe.
Sounds backwards, I know. But the more free you are to change what you believe, the more likely you’ll move forward with your beliefs knowing that you’ve fine tuned and tweaked them along the way to help you get the results that you want.
That’s how I feel. I commit to what I believe, and I question those beliefs anyway, because I’m always finding ways to improve upon myself. Staying open doesn’t mean you’re wrong about what you believe, it means that you are willing to take the steps needed to create the life you want. If information comes along that flies in the face of what you believe, try it on – see if it works for you.
That doesn’t mean you start trying everything just because it’s different. It just means that if you aren’t getting the results you’re looking for, stay open to trying something new.
- Let go of the drama
It’s funny, I was watching the old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Commando just today and one part there’s a woman who gets in the car and screams at Arnold, or whatever his name was in the movie, crying, complaining, and yelling at him because she’d just gone through so much trouble. At the end of her rant, she screams, “Are you gonna tell me what’s going on or what? “
There’s a tiny pause, and Arnold says, “No”. And that was the end of the scene. It was perfect, at least as an example of drama. She was completely dramatic, and he stayed present and in control.
Sometimes, so much can be said when you say so little. It doesn’t mean you never complain or rant again, it just means it’s good to be aware when you are being a little too overly dramatic. It’s tough, because drama is emotion expressed through words and behavior. And if you have a lot of emotion going on, and you just have to release it somehow, it could come out in the form of drama.
But that’s where the use of “I feel” statements come in. If you can step out of the drama for a moment, and say what you feel, then you will have a much more productive time getting over the experience.
I still catch myself being dramatic on rare occasions, but that’s okay, I’m aware and pull back when I see it happening. There’s always work to be done on ourselves, which is what keeps us learning and growing.
Speaking of working on ourselves, know that others are doing the same thing. Number 3 is Let other people be themselves.
You may be going through your own personal growth and development, but might look at others and think, “Wow, they could use a show like The Overwhelmed Brain” ha ha, just kidding. But you may think that if they only did X or only read Y, they’d probably be happier and have an easier time in life.
The truth is, we are all exactly where we need to be and can be at this time. In other words, if someone is not ready, they’re not ready. Have you ever seen a book that looked interesting, but never bought it.
But then five years later, that book totally resonated with you and you had to have it? Or if you can’t identify with that, how about something you were told as a teenager like, “Start saving your money now so you’ll have a lot when you grow older” which is advice I never took.
I think about that now and say, “Darn! I wish I had followed that advice.”
The truth is, I was not in a place in my life where those words made any difference to me. They only made a difference when I realized how little I had. That’s how it is with all of us, with any advice. Sometimes, we are not in the right space to hear what could be excellent advice, so we don’t listen.
But that’s not because we’re stubborn. Well, it could be, but most likely it’s because we are not in a place in our lives where that advice seems useful. We have other things going on, and we’re still learning perhaps some of the more foundational lessons in life.
By letting others be themselves, you are allowing them to be who they need to be in order to live the only life they know how. It doesn’t mean you don’t try to help, but it does mean if they don’t want your help, you let them be. And if you can, support their decision. If you can’t support their decision, then maybe it’s time to move on and separate them from your life so that you can enjoy yours.
It can be hard to let someone follow their own path, I know this firsthand. You can still talk and help them find the way, but in the end, their path is still theirs to walk. So all you can do is stand back and hope they learn what they need to learn to make the right decisions in life. Sometimes they’ll surprise you, and sometimes they’ll crash and burn.
Do what you can without taking away their own self-empowerment.
Number 4 is Realize that anger is rarely about the moment
When you realize that your anger stems from your own past, you can process it a bit differently. You can stop pointing so many fingers at other people, and look inward to resolve it. This gives you great power over your emotions. It may still anger you, but at least it’s coming from a place inside you that you can look at, instead of relying on someone else to change or do something differently.
Sure, you could be angry that so and so did such and such, but what is happening at your deepest level emotional core? Are you in fear? There are deep-rooted programs running the show, and anger is never about what’s happening now, though it is triggered in the now for sure.
When you can view anger as self-initiated, you can start taking responsibility for your own emotions. Yeah, people will upset you still, but when you know your emotions come out of you, you have an opportunity to process them faster and make decisions that are right for you instead of having to wait for someone else to change.
It’s a lot easier releasing emotions when you own up to them. You can still address what makes you angry, after all you may need to honor your personal boundaries, right? But keep in mind that when you know that all emotions are your emotions, and you choose to own them, you can go inward to release them and not rely on the outside world to make the changes you want others to make.
Speaking of which, number 5 is to
- honor your personal boundaries
What will you let inside your castle walls? Some people have an open door policy, where certain people are allowed in and out all the time, even if they don’t want them in.
The first time you honor yourself is usually the hardest. It’s that “no” that you need to convey, or standing up when you never stood up before, metaphorically speaking that is.
I remember the day I told my boss how disappointed I was in my raise and promotion. There I was, getting more money and a higher rank, and I told them, a two person team, I was disappointed and was expecting a lot more.
Pretentious? No. I just knew what I was worth, so I honored myself and told them I expected more. They were both surprised, because no one had spoken up like that before. I knew they liked me and were happy with my performance, because they came back and asked me what I would like to earn. I thought that was thoughtful of them, but I decided to leave the company not to much later after that anyway, so I let it go.
But I stood up for myself, and let them know I was definitely worth more. That felt good. I could have lost my job I suppose, but when one of your top values is honoring yourself, like it is for me, you take bold steps to live with integrity.
I remember that guy Mike that I worked with so long ago. He would complain with a lot of drama, he was definitely not open to being wrong about what he believed the company was doing to him, and he was certainly not honoring himself because he didn’t go talk to the boss about the way he felt.
He thought he was being treated unfairly, but the boss never knew. Mike slacked off more and more, so the boss only saw him performing worse and worse, instead of getting the covert message that Mike was trying to convey: That he felt he was not paid enough for what he does.
I wonder, if he applied himself, and told the boss that he will do whatever it takes to get a raise, if they would have looked at him differently. I’m willing to bet they would, because bosses usually like employees to take the extra step to get things done, and learn how to perform their job more efficiently.
Mike was young, and hadn’t learned a lot of the lessons in life yet, so I’ll give him that. And, I actually liked the guy. Sure, he brought drama, but he was good at what he did, when he did it. And in a non-business setting, he was fun to be around.
But I also knew that there was nothing I could say or do to help him. He was where he needed to be at this time in life. He may never learn that the world isn’t out to cheat him, and that is something he’ll just have to learn to live with. But, maybe, just maybe, he’ll tune into this show one day and learn something he hadn’t realized before.
Wouldn’t that be something? At the right time, the right message can come, and change your life forever. It can happen, I’ve seen it before, and I want that for you too.
Thank you for listening to another episode of The Overwhelmed Brain. I thank Greg, Michael, Lynne, Samuel, Diana, Hz, LeeAnne, Anna, Kathy, Eville, Raven, Kelly, Kerry-Anne, Barbara, Angela, Eric, Angelica, Carol, Caroline, Vanessa, Belinda, Carrie, Aib, Deb, David, Mike, Awais, and Hugh. And a special thanks to Tinnycua who wrote a powerful email to me. I’ll write back as soon as I can Tinnycua, thank you for sharing your story with me.
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If I didn’t call your name in this episode, just know that I appreciate you and thank you for being there for me, listening, learning, and growing.
You know, I had a hard time titling this particular episode. At first, it was 10 Life Lessons That If You Implement Will Give You Peace and Fulfillment, but that was so wordy, so I changed it several times and finally came up with 10 Life Lessons You Should Already Know. So there. Ha ha, it doesn’t mean that you really “should” know them, it just means if you don’t know them already, then learning them will probably help you become more at peace and more fulfilled.
Becoming more peaceful and more fulfilled is a great space to be in, in my opinion. The lessons I talked about today are just a start. But, if you haven’t implemented them yet, they will be life changing when you do. Start small. Start with honoring your boundaries once and see what happens. Then do it again. Then maybe let someone who always bothers you be themselves. Let them whine, complain, or anything that they do, and just let them be without you offering any advice or guidance. See what happens.
Try this stuff on. Treat life like you are experimenting to find out what works. This is why I tell people to be open about being wrong, because it helps you become more “right” in what you know. The more you learn and are open to learning, the more you grow and become the person you want to be. This leads to all sorts of changes, good changes, that help you create the life you want.
Imagine that, holding the reigns of your life. Steering it and guiding yourself to your future. You can create the outcomes you want, but it may take some work. It might involve you building some courage and motivation to make things happen.
I know you can do this though, because I know the power that lies within you. You have what it takes to evolve beyond what you think is possible. I know this is true because people do astounding things everyday. And you can too. Just believe it’s possible, then move in that direction to make it happen. I believe in you. And if you ever feel like giving up, just remember one thing… you know what that is right? Remember that you are amazing.
Paul, I want to thank you and Kelly for the program about sensitive people! It really hit home with me, as I have always been EXTREMELY sensitive to everyhing around me. The result, in my case, has been to define myself by whatever others think think or feel at any given moment, and it has been exhausting! I’m coming to realize that those of us hypersensitive folks see our world in a much different perspective than those with, for lack of a better term, “normal” sensitivity levels.
The best way I can describe it is this: Imagine sitting in a room with bright flashing strobe lights and a loud horn that sounds at random intervals. You don’t know if or when the horn will sound….only that it will be very unpleasant and startling if and when it does, so you live in a constant state of anxiety “preparing” to be blown out of your chair at any minute. You tell yourself that you dare not get comfortable, because you believe that the moment you relax, that horn will blare.
Now, imagine that going on for 50 years, and you’ll get a glimpse into my own overwhelmed brain.
I agree wholeheartedly with Kelly insofar as this kind of hypersensitivity has something to do with the chemical and electrical makeup of our brains, and that it ultimately takes some HARD rewiring on the part of the hypersensitive person, not to surpress it (the world needs sensitive people), but to control sensitivity in a manner to which we can use it logically and effectively without damaging ourselves in the process, or worse yet, losing ourselves in the strobe lights and loud horns. It’s something I struggle with every day, but thanks to resources like you provide, I have been able to better identify it and increase my awareness, making it much easier to work with. Keep up the excellent work!
Dan! Thank you so much for sharing this. I am sensitive to sensitive people 😉 Seriously though, I cannot imagine what it’s like to go through this. I’m so glad Kelly shared this with The Overwhelmed Brain listeners. I’ve received messages from people who didn’t know they were HSPs until this episode. It’s nice to give them a resource.
I appreciate this amazing comment. Hopefully Kelly, myself, and the plethora of other resources out there will help you and others learn to tolerate and maybe even get a tad desensitized to live a somewhat more fulfilling life.
I’m grateful for you!