better than normal

 “nor·mal/nôrməl/ : conforming to a standard; usual, typical, expected.” – Could there be a less inspiring sentiment? 

The true meaning of “normal” has no life or vigor and yet our fear-based egos desperately watch, measure and assess how who we are and what we are doing compares to everyone else.  It tries to hide the parts of us it fears deviate from the norm because we are too sensitive, messy, complicated, challenging… or not motivated, creative, humorous or successful enough.  In front of vulnerable truths ego would prefer to place shiny facades and carefully crafted PR blips. 

There are so many heartbreaking problems with this form of defense.  It keeps us terrified that we aren’t truly worthy or lovable because no one knows the REAL us.  It keeps us alienated from meaningful connection because no one can reach us behind all the cover up.  And perhaps most persistently problematic, it maintains the groupthink that there even is such a thing as “normal”, which perpetuates misunderstanding of what is honorable, honest, raw and meaningful about the human experience.

So I beg of us, if not for ourselves (though I want for that to be the greatest motivator), then for each other, let’s give up trying to be what we think we should be and start wholeheartedly being—simply being.  I am certain we will find greater peace, energy, love and fulfillment liberated from the chains of assumption about other people’s expectations of us.

time to shine: step 1

(Part 1 of 4) For all the rejuvenation inferred in a “new year” (which is mostly nonsense), I for one felt like I dragged myself through January as sluggishly as ever.  There were many contributing factors, not the least of which included turbulent national times and a relentlessly cold and gray Montana winter.

Here’s the shorthand guide I’m using to try to grab the helm once again:

However, whatever the reasons, when the course of life starts to feel more like bracing against a crashing tide and less like steering a course deliberately, it’s time to regroup.

1. Accept the limitations of your influence and remember the mind’s default is to focus on dynamics that exacerbate the feeling of struggle.

In the primitive brain’s endeavor to keep us safe, it’s on high alert for what feels dangerous (note: not necessarily what IS dangerous).  Therefore, the things that are beyond our control will be what the mind wants to perseverate on the most, including what’s to come personally or professionally, what the people we love do or don’t do, or what others say or think about us or our lives.

Despite our mind’s preoccupation with these, we can’t control ANY of them.  We can attempt to INFLUENCE them, but we cannot control them.  This distinction is imperative to understand. 

Attempts to control are premised on the attachment to a conclusion… on others’ interpretations and perceptions or on how end results play out or are assessed, but these outcomes are affected by influences well beyond what we as individuals can impact.

Before getting frustrated with the futility of this fear-based thinking, remember that fear exists as a guide, waking you up to realize that happiness, freedom and peace only come from within and never from trying to control a single thing outside of yourself.

You’re an adult now, which means you’re the boss of you, and while you can’t dictate all the details of how life unfolds, you’re absolutely empowered to decide how you perceive it and what you make of it.  Once the focus shifts from rigidly believing it’s your need or responsibility to figure out how to MAKE things outside of you turn out a specific way, you instantly release yourself from gridlock of the ego and liberate your soul for greater truths and action.