Curious, I noticed someone in their mid-20s next to me reading a book that looked interesting.
I asked about the book, we started chatting, and at some point I shared a story about mountain biking. I was sharing the weather, the elevation in the mountains, and the type of terrain we were riding. I recall being immersed in the story (similar to how mountain biking immerses me in the moment).
He seemed interested, and I asked if he’d like to see a recent mountain biking video I put together. I casually sent the video through e-mail and he said he liked the video.
I learned this person’s name was Alan. After this experience, I saw him several times at this coffee shop over several months. Often, reading a book and drinking a coffee.
I recall a specific time I saw him with bandages on his hand.
I shared a joke about him boxing before I eventually asked what happened.
He shared that he had taken a class at REI on how to ride a bike. During the class, he turned too sharp. He fell and bloodied up his hands which is why both of his hands were covered in a white gauze.
I remember leaving that conversation surprised that he didn’t know how to ride a bike. I was mostly surprised because that thought never crossed my mind. I didn’t necessarily assume he knew how to ride, but I also didn’t assume he didn’t know how. I never did ask when I shared my story.
Remember Alan and his story. I reference it throughout this article.
The objective reminder
Before you continue, if you intend to speed read through this, leave right now. My writing is not for you.
This is my objective reminder to you.
When we’re caught up in our own world, we often are not thinking objectively.
When you’re objective, you’re not influenced by personal feelings, personal biases, or opinions.
When you’re objective, you’re stronger because you don’t surrender your power to others easily. You don’t allow yourself to be easily affected by others (unless you choose to be affected).
I want you to understand this. I want to drown you in it, actually, because the people who get this strengthen their mental foundation.
Here’s an analogy to your mental foundation:
Imagine you’re building a house.
Imagine you’re building a house on a hill that is prone to mudslides. A mudslide could alter the foundation of the home and negatively impact the structure.
Would you want to build your home in an area if you knew this?
I doubt it. I know I wouldn’t.
Now, pay attention.
If you wouldn’t want to build a home in an area prone to mudslides, then you definitely wouldn’t want to do this.
You definitely wouldn’t want to build your home in an area prone to mudslides, fires, on the side of an active volcano, overlooking a 1000 foot cliff.
That would be silly, right?
How could you live with peace of mind knowing that rain could create a mudslide, a wildfire could burn your home down, or an active volcano could erupt.
Now, remember, personal growth is not personal. Imagine living in this home with your family or closest friends.
Imagine living in a home with your family or close friends in an area prone to mudslides, fires, on the side of an active volcano, overlooking a 1000 foot cliff.
This is what we often do. We build our mental homes on a weak foundation.
We experience pain, anger, fear, and a roller coaster of emotions, and we wonder why (or we don’t).
I am not being critical or judgmental. I have done this, too. I believe I am doing the best I can with what I have with what I’ve been given in every moment. Because I own this belief, I give this gift to others.
This is a powerful perspective.
If you fight this article, it says a lot about your beliefs and how strong the force is to protect yourself. I know I’ve tried but I eventually surrendered.
I am not saying
To be clear, I am not saying to become a robot.
I am not saying to adopt a new perspective that will remove your humanity. The things that make you human.
I am not saying to dishonor your feelings and emotions. I believe you need to embrace them to understand them and see them.
The strength in perspective I speak of is not something we need. It is something wewant.
I know this belief is not widely adopted because I see it in the actions of those around me.
Allow me to objectively remind you
First, let’s zoom out.
Let’s zoom out of your life. Like a hawk who see’s from the sky.
Zoom up and see your immediate circle.
Maybe that is your family or maybe it is your closest friends.
Next, zoom up further. Fly higher.
Notice the bird’s eye view of your city.
Next, fly higher. See the state or large region you live in. Notice all the people.
Notice your country.
Notice the world. ~7 billion human beings in our species.
Again, go higher…
Now, from the moon, put your thumb over the earth.
Notice how small it is. It is your home.
Notice how small you are on your earth.
Now, fall from the moon and hit the earth, like a meteor.
You’re back on earth. Welcome.
Do you remember when you saw the earth from the moon?
What did you see?
Allow me to objectively remind you what I see.
I see ~7 billion human beings in our species.
I see you as someone who appeared on a map and grew up in a certain environment that fed you beliefs and habits and stories that fill your mind.
I learned how to ride a bike when I was 6. Alan, in his mid-20s, did not.
This is neither good nor bad, it simply is the reality we live in.
The stories you tell yourself from your life experiences and your biology affect the way you experience life.
That’s all it is, your story made up of beliefs and values, or your biology.
I am not attacking your identity. You are not your story. You are not your beliefs. I am highlighting that this is all it is… a story in your mind or your biology.
When you associate your identity with your story, or when you identify with your beliefs, you feed the bear in your blind spot and it could kill you.
You cannot fully change your biology, but you can influence it by changing the stories you tell yourself and the habits you create.
An example of the story you tell yourself.
Imagine you’re wearing sunglasses.
They’re your favorite sunglasses and they look great on you.
You see everything with a darker tint, right?
That is what a belief does to you. It changes the way you see your world.
Except, you’re wearing thousands of sunglasses and each one tints your world in a different way.
The more self-aware you are, the more you understand the sunglasses you wear or the beliefs you have.
Again, this is not good or bad, it simply is. I am not attacking you, or your identity, I am only acknowledging your beliefs and how they affect you.
I want to honor your beliefs. When I lived with a lot of fear in my life because of the beliefs I held, that fear was real. The darkness I saw in the world was real. I honor the beliefs we hold.
Either you own your beliefs or they own you. This is self-awareness.
Another objective reminder about your experience of life
To recap, you are a human being. There are about 7 billion human beings in your species.
Your biology and your awareness (stories you tell yourself, beliefs, value, etc) affect your experience of life.
To take it a step further…
Everything you do, every action you take, or lack of action, or word you speak, or don’t speak, says something about you.
Your actions and spoken words are not reflective of the world you live in. They are reflective of you.
The stories you share with others are not about the story. They are reflective of the way you experience the story.
If something makes you feel uncomfortable, there are reasons (conscious or not) why you feel uncomfortable. Maybe you’re not accepting something about yourself. Maybe there is a certain fear that has you unknowingly. Maybe there is something you don’t see in yourself.
If something frustrates you, there are reasons (conscious or not) why you feel frustrated. Your beliefs or values are clashing together. Internal tension is created because your beliefs are not aligned. Maybe, you see something in others that you haven’t accepted in yourself. I’ve seen this played out dozens of times. I see someone get frustrated, explain the frustration about someone else, and then I can see the same behavior in the person who’s frustrated. This is about self-awareness, that’s all. I can see it in others because I have learned to see things in myself.
Said another way: everything you do is reflective of you.
It’s not reflective of your identity. I am not attacking your identity. Remember, you are 1 of 7 billion people in the human species. That is real. I honor what is real like I honor gravity.
To unpack this further, your relationship with others is reflective of the relationship you have with yourself.
If critical people frustrate you, maybe you haven’t accepted that you are critical of yourself.
If overly selfish people caught up in their own image annoy you, maybe you haven’t accepted that you do this too.
If powerful people annoy you, maybe you haven’t accepted or invested in understanding your own power.
If others never meet your expectations, what expectations do you have with yourself?
I could go on and on about jealousy, competitiveness, negativity, insecurities…
Learn to see yourself in those around you to increase your self-awareness.
What frustrates you? Have you accepted or examined this in your own life? When something is deeply understood, it does not have power over you anymore.
Also, the opposite is true here.
Often, the things you admire in others are things that you haven’t fully expressed in yourself.
This is why you hear the phrase “opposites attract.” The person is attracted to something they see in someone else that they haven’t fully expressed or embraced in themselves. The weak are attracted to the strong, introvert attracted to extrovert, giver attracted by the taker, insecure attracted to the secure. It’s a different way to express the same behavior, that’s all. Hot or cold is a different way to express temperature, for example.
This plays out in romantic relationships as well as friendships. Growing up, I had several friends who appeared overly confident. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s because growing up I lacked confidence.
When you don’t have the self-awareness to see these patterns, you can create a prison that supports the pattern.
Yes, it can be uncomfortable to work through these things. Survival thoughts can keep you “safe” your entire life. (The survival thoughts and voice within is stronger when identity is associated with behavior. This is the bear in your blind spot).
This truth I speak of is not something people need. It’s something they choose to want.
Every time you feel a certain way, unpack daily what causes you to feel that way.
Everything you experience is a reflection of you.
Either you understand all your triggers and where they come from or you don’t.
I’ve heard the quote, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Your teachers are all around you. You simply need to decide if you want to start paying attention to them. You need to decide (or not) to honor the reality in front of you. It’s a game of awareness.
A belief to honor
Objectively speaking, I believe I am doing the best I can, with what I have, with what I’ve been given, in every moment. I believe this is a natural law.
I don’t think anyone wants to feel pain. To fail a business. To get a divorce. To make mistakes. To do a poor job.
When I used to not believe I was doing the best I could, with what I was given, with what I had available to me, in every moment, my life reflected it. Instead, I believed I could have done better.
In everything I did, I always thought I could do better, in everything.
When I believed this, my life reflected it.
I was never good enough. I was insecure because I was never good enough.
This gap between what I would do and what I thought I could do resulted in low self-esteem.
Said another way, my reality, and the carrot I held in front of myself, created a gap that created internal tension.
Because my relationship with myself was reflection of my relationship with others, I believed everyone could do better.
Often, this left me hopeless, powerless, insecure, frustrated, and never good enough… because I created the gap between who I was and who I thought I should be. I lacked the awareness to see the gap.
I created my own prison. And I am now free from it.
This same belief is often what drives overachievers and entrepreneurs. Unless intentional effort is invested to understand this, many never understand this.
This same belief can also drive complete organizations. Because the CEO is chasing his own carrot, he ends up setting a carrot for everyone around him in the organization.
Sure, this pattern can drive someone to do things they didn’t think were possible… but at what expense? Children growing up in dysfunctional families? Health issues? A life filled with stress? I love and honor everyone’s journey. I write these powerful analogies to make a point.
Remember Alan from my intro story? He learned to ride a bike in his mid-20s. I learned how to ride a bike when I was 6. Awareness leads to newfound conviction and understanding which allows us to create the habits we want to have.
Because I believe I am doing the best I can, with what I have, with what I’ve been given, in every moment, I always accept myself. There is no gap. I don’t look into my past and think, “I could have done better.” If I could have done better, I would have done better. I did what I knew how to do to the best I could do it. The level of self-awareness that brought you here will not get you there.
This belief has given me greater empathy over self. Since my relationship with myself is a reflection of my relationship with others, I also have empathy for others.
Now, ask yourself, do you do this?
Do you believe you are doing the best you can, with what you have, with what you were given, in every moment?
Go on, pause, think about this.
When you can accept this, you will begin to honor yourself and others.
I understand the survival thoughts of “not being good enough” that will try to fight this belief. But what if you accepted it? What would your life be like? What would your relationships with others be like?
When you live with this gap of always thinking you can do better, you create friction in your life that extends to those around you. Instead of leading a life of love, you live with fear. You live with the fear of not being good enough.
You don’t need to wait until you’re 70 or 80 to adopt these beliefs. You can decide now.
The objective closing
Either you see the stories you tell yourself or they own you.
After awareness comes effort to create a stronger perspective. When you see the value of stronger perspectives and beliefs, and when you can live with integrity of your chosen beliefs and perspective, you can embrace your power.
This takes time and effort. It may be uncomfortable. It requires courage. It is the most meaningful journey we can begin for ourselves.
I know what you’re thinking. This is the article you did not want to read.
You didn’t want to read this because now you know. Everything you experience is within your power to affect.
If you understand this article, you have nothing to blame. Nothing to discharge your pain and discomfort on.
There is no external force. There is no external consequences. There is only learning and doing the best you can, with what you have, with what you’ve been given.
New awareness with effort can lead you to an internal freedom that you didn’t understand before.
Do you want to uncover things you may not have seen before? Learn about our introspective experience.