Most people keep running into the same problems over and over. Here’s how to NOT be one of these people…
A few years back…
I’m at The Department of Motor Vehicles to get my motorcycle license. I pull up to the testing area on my Harley Davidson Cross Bones. The bike weighs in at close to 800lbs, and me, being 6’6″ and big on both heavy weight lifting sessions and good cooking… I come in at just under 350lbs…
Next me in line was a guy who had a one of those like little mini-bike things, I believe it was a 50cc… about 1/32nd as many cc’s as mine was holding. I joked with him about how if I sat on his bike I would probably crush it … but when I was about 10 it’s all could think of, owning a mini bike.
The gentleman responsible for marking the tests takes one look at my Harley and tells me there’s no way I’m gonna pass. He explains how the bike is way too heavy for the obstacle course. I tell him I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was kid, have had many dirt and street bikes ever since, and that passing the test will not be an issue.
He shakes his head “no” and points to a line of orange cones, and then a little circle that’s about 8 or 10 feet in diameter. Apparently I’m to ride my motorcycle around this little circle and keep my tires within two lines on the outside of the circle that look to be about 18 inches apart from each other.
I jump on, go through the little course with little difficulty, however, when I gets to the line of cones of which I’m apparently supposed to zig-zag between, I plow half of em’ over. Damn, that sucked, I know that dude is marking some serious points off for that move.
I collect my focus and continue onto the little circle I’m supposed to ride around, I screw that one up even bigger. I look over at the test guy and he’s shaking his head and smiling at me with a big old bright-eyed and shiny “I told ya so” grin. And I gotta admit, I’m a little embarrassed, I’ve been riding since I was a kid and a whole bunch of people sitting and standing outside the DMV just saw me fail this motorcycle test miserably.
And that’s exactly what I do. I put my big 345lb ass down on this little 50cc mini bike, and make my way through the little obstacle course, cones, the circle, the whole deal.
A massive crowd of people forms on the sidewalk next to where I’m taking the test to watch this spectacle.
The distance between the seat and the foot board must have only been about 12 inches, much too short for my super long and massive legs, causing my knees to stick way out to the side and about a foot higher than the handle bars. I would have fit better on this thing when I was about 9.
As I round the corner for home, the crowd cheers me on. I make it, mission accomplished.
I must have looked hilarious out there, and by the looks on the spectators faces as they laugh their asses off, I did.
A 6’6″ 345 pound man maneuvering an obstacle course on a tiny little 50cc mini-bike meant for a child.
I passed the test on that thing, and had a great time taking it.
To evolve, we must adapt, and sometimes in life, getting to the next level is fun.
It’s easier to just point the finger at that guy over there… the girl who broke your heart, the employer who doesn’t appreciate you, the partner who didn’t stick to their end of the agreement, the government that wants to control you… fill-in-the-blank.
It usually feels better to just place blame over there, for your problems over here, instead of being self-responsible and looking at parts of yourself that aren’t all that pretty.
Because taking personal accountability for some of the dumb shit we do, can be about as fun as stubbing the big toe of our emotions on the fact that we’re not as hip, slick, smart, cool and sexy as you’d like others to believe we are.
But, if we’re willing to look into the reflection of the situation, and see our part, we can rise above it. If we’re willing to look at our lives and know that we are responsible for every condition, every circumstance, every outcome and every wound, we can find our freedom.
However, this is not the path for cowards, it’s the path of your inner hero. It takes the willingness to feel great amounts of pain, and not run from it by projecting it onto some usual suspect or distracting ourselves with blame, resentment, busywork, addictions and other avoidance activities.
It’s about giving up the need to control what’s “out there” and focusing on changing our own thoughts, behaviors and habits. Reminding ourselves, it’s not what “they” think that matters, it’s what we think and what we do.
Taking this kind of responsibility can be agonizing to put it lightly, but if we don’t do it, we’ll keep having the same old déjà vu type experiences. We’ll keep banging our heads on the the same brick walls, pulling in the same kind of people and re-creating the same kind of circumstances in our lives, until we finally learn our lessons… or we don’t.
This kind of radical accountability is true healing at the ground zero of our being, pulling the cause of our suffering up by it’s roots and planting something beautiful in it’s place.
It’s being willing to look at ourself squarely in the eye, and feel the raw nerve the size of a bowling ball that sits in our chest and stomach and just fucking deal with it.
It’s being willing to forgive, knowing that in reality, it’s ourselves that we’re forgiving. When we forgive, we’re able change the entire way the game is played, and are now armed with love, acceptance and unseen amounts of personal power. Even if we don’t always end up with the most marbles in our dish, or checkers on the board, we end up winning the game against our “self”… the little mother fucker that lives nowhere but in our heads.
It’s saying “I’m wrong”, and meaning it. It’s putting our asses on the line for what we believe in. It’s putting our art, ourselves and our cause out there for the entire world to see, no matter what anyone thinks about it or says about it. It’s being vulnerable, naked and exposed.
It’s using our guilt to hold ourselves accountable and strive towards something greater, while staying out of the life smothering state of shame. When you know you’ve done a bad thing, that’s guilt, when you think you’re a bad person because of it, that’s shame, and that shit will kill you.
It’s about realizing we’re not perfect, never will be, but can still kick a ton of ass while we’re here and have one helluva good time.
To grow, we need to be self-actualized. We need to completely experience pain when it rises up in us. Now yes, this pain can suck, but here’s the great thing… the more we can experience and allow it to be, without resistance, distraction or blame, not only will we be able to grow more, but the more we’ll be able to experience the “good” emotions when they rise up in us
In 25 Ways To Feel Totally Fucking Awesome, I wrote about how, to feel good, we must also feel bad. There is no such thing as always trotting down the yellow brick road with a joyous spring in your step and smile on your face.
A lot of self-help and new age gurus will tell you that you should ALWAYS be in a good mood, filled with harmonious joy, love towards all and walk around with a tingly feeling in your butt as butterflies fly out of it.
Well, good fucking luck with that one.
We’re told if we just feel good all the time and see the things we want with joyous bliss in our bellies, that grandpa will show up at our doorstep with a brand new bicycle, we’ll end up living in the exact house whose picture we cut out from a magazine and stuck on our wall, unexpected checks will magically start to appear in the mail and we’ll always find a big fat parking spot right in the front row.
All very cool stuff, and I’ve actually had great results with attracting some amazing in my life through the power of visualization and ( cough, cough ) action.
On the flip side of the “think it, feel it, get it” coin, we’re told that if we feel “negative” emotions, all kinds of negative stuff will happen to us.
So it makes sense that we want to avoid feeling like shit right? Unless of course, our goal is to manifest a steaming pile of it.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not knocking visualization, positive self-talk and feeling good about our life and things we want, in fact I’m for that kinda stuff.
What I AM saying, is that it ain’t as easy as just always trying to keep yourself in a “joyous and blissful” state of being all the time.
A quick trip to Wikipedia reveals some of the many theories about how many emotions we have.
Among others, there’s Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions, which says the basic eight emotions are fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, trust, anticipation and surprise.
And according to Book Two of Aristotle’s Rhetoric, we have anger, friendship, fear, shame, kindness, pity, indignation and envy
Looking at these lists it kinda looks like we’re screwed. I mean, easily half of those emotions don’t feel all that great to experience. Ouch.
First, to know what feels good we have to have something to compare it to, like not feeling good.
And secondly and more importantly, it’s not like we can just close the valve on the bad feeling emotions and and leave the valve for good feeling emotion open. You close one, you close both. And when you do this, you end up with a pretty serious back-up of emotions… and sooner or later something’s gonna burst;
When you have an emotional surplus like this, pretty soon someone’s gonna feed the gremlins after midnight, and when that happens, the shit’s goin’ down.
Once you let these little hoodlums, like anger and sadness, lurk around in the back alleys of your psyche, by denying them when they come up, they’re gonna cause all sorts of shenanigans back there.
Resisting what comes up is definitely a dangerous game. When you push your emotions down into a dark and unseen place, they’ll enjoy a steady regimen of push-ups, squats and deadlifts… only to come back when you least expect it to ambush you with 50 pounds more muscle on their frame, and twice the speed and power. Sometimes the smallest of things can trigger one of these emotional ambushes
The best plan is to just experience things as they come up, without any resistance.
Face your emotions head on, allow them to be, experience them fully, investigate them and see if you can get to the roots. The light of awareness is what can transmute the lower-end feelings into higher end ones
The world is a mirror. Sometimes it’s awesome, sometimes it’s hilarious and sometimes it downright fucking sucks. And when it sucks, we usually had something to do with it. That’s where we need to start, that’s where we need to let our investigation begin. We need to be vulnerable and courageous enough to keep the light on and look ourselves straight in the eye.
If we avoid looking in the mirror, cuz’ we’re too scared to examine the parts of ourselves that our dark and ugly… we limit our ability to live a truly free and awesome life. We limit our ability to grow. We’ll keep running in to the same kinds of people and the same kinds of problems.
All we need to do, is take the spotlight of awareness off everything and everyone, and turn it back on ourselves. We need to look deep within and cauterize the wounds, and yeah, sometimes it hurts to bleed, but when we face ourselves and our short comings head on, we evolve to a new level of existence.
We can then ride our minibikes off into the sunset of our dreams, flipping the bird to the part ourselves that wants to hold us back.
And, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject
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The picture at the top of this post, The Path, is from Alice Popcorn on Flickr