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Paradigm shifts.
I'm all about paradigm shifts.

Self-Love, Being Your Own Best Friend – And All This In A Non-Creepy Way

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

ownbestfriend

“Lift up the self by the Self
And don’t let the self droop down,
For the Self is the self’s only friend
And the self is the Self’s only foe.” ~ Bhagavad Gita 6:5

 A mindf**k, maybe, nevertheless true.

So, we must find a way to pick ourselves up. And a way to stop laying ourselves flat, kicking ourselves when we’re already down (and why not at all other times too?). Because it is our own blows, even the taking away of our own hand as we feel ourselves drooping down, that are the most destructive. Sometimes catastrophic.

Something in you can do it, knows the way, easy – that is your Self. Not the small ‘self’, the one you probably identify with more (‘identify’ means recognize as yourself); but the Self. The Self doesn’t hesitate; it knows how to love, even the self. Even your self.

 

Question: “That I feed the hungry, forgive an insult, and love my enemy – these are great virtues. But what if I should discover that the poorest of beggars and most impudent of offenders are all within me, and that I stand in need of all the alms of my own kindness; that I myself am the enemy who must be loved – what then?” (Carl Jung)

What then? Will you acknowledge your self as the same as all others: worthy of your compassion and encouragement and loving kindness? (Please?)

 

This is why: “If we feel a sense of self-love and someone else loves us, we feel, ‘But, of course!'” (Nathaniel Branden)

Not because of an egotism or self-conceit; but because that’s how we feel about the things we react to with love. It’s how we feel when we react to things with love.

 

Remember: “The most effective way to achieve right relations with any living thing is to look for the best in it, and then help that best into the fullest expression.” (J. Allen Boone)

Any living thing includes yourself, and that’s what’s true: to achieve right relations with your self, and to be your own best friend, you must look for the best in your self, you must feed the poor, forgive the offensive, and love the ‘despicable’ within you. Not to get it to stay the way it is, but precisely so that you have a hope of helping it become a better version of itself. You must lift your self up; and not let your self, or its smile, droop down, so that you have a leg, or a hope, to stand on. Be a Friend. Something in you knows how – easy.

 

The Idea That Faith Is Stupid

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

“Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It’s nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction.” ~ Bill Maher, Religulous

The idea that faith is stupid is a close cousin of the idea that atheism is rational; and, accordingly, that theism is irrational.

Don’t get me wrong, I know why it looks this way: an immaculate conception, a talking snake, a jealous God – believe me, I get it. The unfortunate thing is that we, as Maher does, so often look for help in coming to understand scripture from people who don’t ‘get it’. If we want to make sense of spiritual or religious texts, it’s not the merely obedient follower, the person who has simply put faith in them, that we should be seeking out for guidance. If help in understanding is what we want, we must look to someone who has understanding; and if it is help in understanding the meaning of wisdom, our only hope is the (a) sage.

The simple reason that atheists are more perplexed post-conversation with a religious man is that the atheist tries to make sense of the religious man’s belief in some doctrine taken literally. The religious man also takes his doctrine quite literally – which leaves everyone, except the devout believer himself somehow, confused. On the other hand, the simple reason there is hope for enlightenment (i.e. understanding) post-conversation with the wise (spiritual) man or woman is because they understand both your mind and their own. They understand that you attempt to take literally what cannot but be symbolic.

The wisdom of a doctrine, of a holy book or story or edict, is its meaning, and its meaning is not its literal content. Its literal content is a pointer, and if you keep looking and inquiring into this content, the words, the facts (i.e. the finger) – you entirely miss the point. You miss what it is pointing to, which is precisely the point of the words and the content. (Yes, this means that religious men, if taking the doctrine literally only, miss the point too.)

I’m not going to pretend to have looked into it very much, but then, case-in-point, I didn’t need to in order to know that any apocalyptic narratives around the Mayan calendar ‘predictions’ were most likely misinterpretations. Why does the ‘end of the world’ – much less the end of a calendar wheel – mean an apocalypse?  Even ‘the end of the world as we know it’ doesn’t mean, necessarily, the final destruction of the world, the universe, and everything in it. A world in which there were no poor, no destitute, and no ill-will amongst men would seem to qualify.

It’s like your kid getting scared as New Year’s approaches that his world is coming to an end: ‘No honey, it’s cool – the calendar year just starts over again. And yeah maybe, just maybe, the upcoming year might have a “theme”. Say last year was about puberty, and all it brings in its wake; this year might be about heartache and learning about your heart – like, that you have one.’ There are ‘themes’ that extend over a yearly, or 8-yearly, or even perhaps yes, a 5,000-yearly cycle – so what? The important question is what theme am I in? ;) If it’s a good one, I say bring it. If it’s reported not to be, I say the report is wrong.

We do know that mankind, in addition to all of life on this planet and in the universe has been through some-such ‘themes’ right? Like, say, from matter to organic matter to conscious organic matter to self-conscious organic matter to … that’s the question: what’s next? The Mayan calendar ‘predicts’, (I prefer ‘heralds’), we’re moving into the next evolution of consciousness. If you can imagine the transformation from living matter to conscious living matter, or from consciousness to self-consciousness, you can understand why one might use the description, ‘a new world’ or, ‘the end’ of the existing one. You’d also avoid thinking the prediction is about a single cataclysmic moment in time, but more likely about a transformation that will occur over the course of time – much like all the other ones that have gone before.

The hoopla, anxiety and stress surrounding the Mayan calendar ‘prediction’ is a good example of what happens when we interpret literally what is meant to be symbolic – and then the media takes it and runs with it. In this case the consequence of taking religious or spiritual texts literally, hopefully, went no further than confusion, anxiety, and increased consumption (yay for more reasons to buy!). But way too often, as Maher addresses in the quote above, the consequence is self-righteous brutality, genocide and mass destruction.

That is all the more that we, when looking to understand a spiritual tenet or percept, do so with discernment. That we look to someone who can make sense of it; who does, or has, or is at least capable of, relating their intellect to the meaning of the words. Still, you, me, we, will then have to decide whether we see what they are pointing to, or whether we’ve gotten lost and mesmerized, still staring at their finger. But remember, we have to get what the words are pointing to in order to make an intelligent decision about them.

There is a difference between religion and spirituality, between dogma and faith. Faith proper does not mean making a virtue of not thinking, but of going past thought. It means sanctioning and standing behind a belief where, technically speaking, going on thought alone – you would have to say ‘I can’t prove it.’ Where you would otherwise have to stop, where you would have to stop if you stopped at the limits of logic, reason and language itself – here, it is precisely faith that allows you to keep going. To keep thinking, and conversing.

Logic, reason, and rationality would not sanction your belief that the sun will come up tomorrow – for in their well-defined eyes this belief is based on induction (on the fact that it came up yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that, even on every other day you’ve ever experienced), and induction is not a sound principle by which to draw logical conclusions about the future. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use or believe in induction; I’m simply pointing out that it’s a faith- not logic- based belief.

As Wittgenstein noted, there are limits to thought and language, and faith is what happens, it is what you must rely on, and what you put to use, in going beyond this boundary. Living our human existences inherently involves – day in and day out – going beyond this boundary; whether you recognize and engage with it consciously and deliberately or not. The appeal to faith is not an effort to be thoughtless, but – and again I am referring to faith proper here not to dogma – a highly aware or mindful motion to continue beyond the ordinary bounds of thought.

Let’s continue to go consciously, and deliberately, beyond the ordinary bounds of thought together. Read more from On Faith. Or Why You Don’t Live Without It. released today! Click here to preview and purchase.

The Irony Of Religion

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

“The irony of religion is that because of its power to divert man to destructive courses, the world could actually come to end. The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live.” Bill Maher, Religulous

As a Buddhist sage once said to Nobel Laureate Richard P. Feynman: ‘To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven. The same key opens the gates of hell.” Something good, put in the service of bad intentions will have a bad effect; while something bad put to good use can be transmuted into a positive. The irony that Maher finds in religion is not the irony of religion, but the irony of all things powerful: their ends are not predetermined, but determined only by the use to which man puts them.

Guns, science, morality too – all have the power to destroy, corrupt or cripple man – and with him, unfortunately, so much more of everything else. But this power is not inherent to object – it does not lie (with)in the object, but within man. The power actually lies in man’s free will to use the object toward whatever end, to put the object in the service of x. The plain fact is not that religion must die for mankind to live – that is like taking a child’s toy away so that he does not have to learn how to share with his playmates. The plain fact is that man must gain mastery over himself in order for mankind to live, peacefully.

Now I understand that Maher has more faith in rational humanity’s ability to extirpate faith than to install self-mastery, poise and temperance. Perhaps we have not yet learned – though I think there are enough examples in history to dispel the idea that man has never been able to use religion, or better still, spirituality or faith, to good ends – but it is actually and technically illogical to think that that means we never will. “If the world does come to an end here,” Maher says, “or wherever, or if it limps into the future, decimated by the effects of religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let’s remember what the real problem was. We learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That’s it. Grow up or die.”

It’s probably more like: Grow up or aid and abet a lot of other people dying until you do. So okay, yes please: let’s all choose to grow up. But let us be clear: this does not involve taking away our toys until we have shown that we are responsible enough to use them. It cannot: for we do not have that choice. And that is not the way we learn to play properly and appropriately and responsibly with our toys anyway. Much like we do not have the choice to give an adolescent a fully functioning penis only after he has proven himself responsible and master over his sexuality.

We must accept the hard fact that some things, cloning and designer babies and all, are just not in our power. Learning how not to precipitate mass death before gaining mastery over our impulse to destroy others is, apparently, one of them; having faith is another. What we have faith in, and to what ends we put this faith – this is in our control, even if we haven’t yet proven ourselves masters over this domain either.

We have no power over whether we are given the key – but we do have power, and it’s our only power here, over how we use it: to unleash what’s behind door number 1, number 2, number 3 … . And until the God that you probably don’t believe in takes the key back, the best thing we can do is refine our skills. And maybe, maybe, like with our sexuality say, see that it can be put to good use. (And who knows, maybe even make life just that much more enjoyable.) That must be what it means to ‘grow up’.

Let’s grow up. Join me for more soon: my latest vignette, On Faith. Or Why You Don’t Live Without It., launches next week! In the meantime, you can catch a preview of it here.

 

The Risk of Breaking Free

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

There are always risks in freedom. The only risk in bondage is that of breaking free. ~ Gita Bellin

Selfishness and The Airplane Rule

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

There is a reason the flight crew is directed to instruct you that, in the case of an emergency, do not be a martyr: put your own mask on before helping someone else. How does the genius of this request not make it past customs? Here are some of the next-level insights it imparts:

1. If you do not help yourself first you may die;

2. If you do not help yourself first I may die;

3. If you do not help yourself first we may both die;

4. If you do not help yourself first you are of no use to anybody;

and finally, 5. If you help yourself first you are in a good position to help others.

The airlines, on behalf of all of us, beg you not to martyr yourself for these reasons. It is clear to them, and hopefully to us all, that if you are gasping for breath your body is going to go into panic, your mind will follow suit, (if, of course, it hasn’t already jumped the gun), and the likelihood of your successfully helping another person decreases exponentially.

The likelihood of helping another, wanting to help another, being able to successfully help another, on the other hand, increases when you are in a stable position. Getting control of yourself, your breath, your mind, and your own life support, is the way toward the mere possibility of you calming someone else, getting their mask on them, or doing anything else if and when called upon to do it.

Why isn’t the airplane rule Golden? – Because all of the above holds true equally on land and sea: your point of entry for an (effective and successful) selfless or unselfish act is to take care of yourself first

Crippling yourself through martyrdom – or simple self-neglect for that matter – does not help anyone. And, assuming you can help yourself, which is it that is selfish: to do so (i.e. to help yourself) or to request – or just wait and make – someone else do it for you? Which, again, is selfish?

When you are genuinely fulfilled, satisfied – or even just well rested – what do you find, that you have more or less time/energy/interest for other people? For those close to you sure – but even for strangers too? Are you not more likely to be short, disinterested, or ruthless with another when you are in need and unfulfilled? And from that place, even if you wanted to, think about what it really is that you have to give, quantity and quality. Can’t we see that we have to offer only what we have? If we are empty, despite our own best intentions, we actually have crap to give (empty + forced giving and taking = the giving and receiving of crap).

We tend not to realize we’re on empty until we completely run out of gas – ill, half insane, or just with the overwhelming urge to lock ourselves away, phone unplugged, completely unavailable to the world. Of course the saving grace would be to realize we’re riding low before we get to this point – but to do this, we have to be allowed to think of ourselves, to care about what we found, to attend to it, and to actively do something about it. I.e.: to be selfish.

Let’s think about this for a minute or two. Read more of On Selfishness. Or Why A Red Rose Is Not Selfish Because It Wants To Be A Red Rose.  Or – great news! – you can now preview selections of the 24-page vignette on our Facebook page.

Small Changes, Big Consequences

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

Question: If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?

If not, why not do the one thing that would make the day a success? (Not the 5, 15, or 500. Find one thing that, alone, would make you satisfied with your day or consider it a success.)

Even better: find and do one thing that would make your day worth living.

Then do the same tomorrow.

Just one.

And watch small, intentional acts produce propitious tsunamis of change in your world.

The Truth About Power.

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

“Knowing others is perspective, but knowing one’s own self is enlightened; conquering others shows strength, but conquering one’s self shows true power.” Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

This is why we do the work. Why I do the work: Power.

That’s right: not for ethical, moral, or some other socially acceptable reasons – that is, not first and foremost. Call it selfish if you want. Call it narcissistic. And it may very well be in the beginning – even if it is not so, in the end. But also call it what it is: natural and intelligent.

I need power to get by in life and make sure my needs are met; and a bit more to boot, if I am to flourish. We all know this; we are part of Nature, so even if we didn’t ‘know’ it, we would still live it. Instinctively we have an appetite for power.

The immature appetite – and by ‘immature’ I mean the non-judgmental descriptive: developed, but not fully developed, mature or evolved – believes I have and gain power by having and gaining control over what exists outside me: people, events, circumstances, situations, objects – especially mine! It believes that power lies in having power over what is not me. The usual suspects as good and effective means of acquiring this kind of power are: money, prestige, affluence/reach, emotional (or other) blackmail, dominance of any kind – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, sexual, you name it!

It doesn’t work – although it’s true, it often seems to work; and this seeming success retards our education and growth. Often it can look like we’ve arrested our development completely: still stuck on the idea that having power means having power over ‘you!’ – whatever the object of our thought, or more likely, of our insecurity, is at the moment.

Our appetite, and pursuit, of power matures when it finally stops trying to overlook the fact that: at the end of the day, we cannot control, nor do we have power over, anything outside of ourselves. Regardless of what it looks like – because sure, it often looks like she has power over him, and him over her, but I also know that it can only be because they have given it to each other in the first place – we have power over nothing but ourselves.

If we’ve lived long enough we know that. It is why we feel insecure and afraid of life the entire time after we’ve had the realization (minus maybe 5 hours total amassed over the course of our lifetime when we have genuinely forgotten that nothing is certain, nothing lasts, and we’re not in control). And we are exceedingly anxious because the one thing we could actually have some success in controlling, ourselves, we often don’t. So we are left with absolutely no real power, and thereby security, in life at all.

Arrested in our development, we desperately and compulsively try to gain and assert power and control over the wave instead of exerting it over ourselves so that we might be able to ride it like this guy:

As my beloved Caroline Myss would say, there’s an eau de toilette, and a perfume version of power, (and everything in between). Trying to control and have power over the waves is eau de toilette; having the power over yourself to remain this relaxed and in control of yourself as you are moved by forces this powerful outside your control is perfume.

The power of self-mastery, which includes everything from self-knowledge and discipline to compassion and self-love, is not a platitude. It’s not some airy-fairy ‘all good and well but totally naive and childish’ nothing-to-do-with-reality idea, despite the fact that it can also look like this:

 

Self-mastery is power. Totally applicable, concrete, you are powerful and in control of your life kind of power. You-have-the-resources-to-do-what-you-want-and-make-what-you-want-happen-in-your-life-power. Even more: the power to be unmoved and unfazed by everything that has heretofore brought you to your knees. Like I said: real power.

Don’t opt, or stop, for a 2nd or 3rd best version: external currency in whatever form (money, muscle, guilt). While the eau de toilette version is something, it is still, comparatively, pretty short-lived and crap. Go for the perfume. There are dozens of free ways to get started, and dozens more than cost under $30. I’ll list 5:

1. Meditate. You’ve heard it before for good reason. It’s super-horrendous and annoying when you begin, depending on where you’re coming from. Too bad, it’s an amazingly transformative and empowering practice.

2. Journaling. Another potentially tiresome and annoying practice when you begin. And another: ‘Tough sh*t, it’s super good for you!’

3. Make a promise to yourself – big or small, preferably small – and keep your word. Do it again! And then again. And then 500 more times. Learning you have a word to keep, and how to keep it, is tremendously empowering.

4. Have an empowering conversation about power. In fact have any conversation about power. But you’re better off having it with someone who will encourage you to increase yours; instead of feeling anxious and uncomfortable at the thought of you not needing them, or what they need, anymore. So choose your partners with discernment. You can check out my vignettes here if you want me to be a part of the conversation; or my resources page for other recommendations.

5. Make a practice of observing your own thoughts, reactions and behavior. Investigate with genuine childlike curiosity. No judgment, no agenda; just the objective, detached eye of a keen observer. Learn something about yourself. Yeah, yeah, I know we think we know it all – or way too much – about ourselves already; but we don’t. And what stays in the shadows of the dark has power over us. We can take that power back by bringing it into the light (of consciousness and awareness).

 

Don’t waste your energy amassing bandaids that won’t even stop a leak from the first rain fall. Start cultivating some “bulletproof” sh*t. You can’t get bulletproof by manipulating the outside world – you have to go in(wards). That’s not bad news – it’s good. It means you don’t have to buy anything or need anyone to get it. Rejoice. Then do the work.

 

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Check Yourself.

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

“I have learned that a man has the right to look down on somebody, only when he is helping him to get up.” Gabriel García Márquez

Of course this truth applies equally to you, and so: you have the right to look down on yourself, only when you are helping yourself to get up. 

Remember that. And live it.

TED: Mind V. Matter

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work.

In this TED talk, Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think Inc., explains why positive psychology matters: not the world – but the way you see the world, is the biggest determining factor of how you experience it.

I’m going to repeat that, because it is a paradigm shift – a complete 180 – from how we, in this modern-Western culture, are educated to understand how reality works, and how we work with reality.

The general assumption is that reality, (the external world), shapes and determines our thoughts, feelings, perceptions, ways of understanding and being (our internal world and ourselves).

The truth is the opposite: our thoughts, feelings, and ways of seeing, perceiving and being dramatically shape and determine our external world – that is, so-called reality. It is a veritable Copernican Revolution; and like Copernicus’ Revolution, it is being brought to you today by reason and science. To be sure, it has been expounded by mystics, saints and spiritual teachers for milennia. But what I’m trying to tell you is that today it is also the not-even-cutting-edge truth of Science: Psychology, yes; but the physical sciences, like Biology and Physics, too.

I don’t know how long it took for the Columbus’ generation to start visualizing the planet they were on as round instead of flat; or Copernicus’ generation to stop putting themselves at the center of the heavens and picture the planets, rather, revolving around the Sun. (And I didn’t feel like googling it!) So I don’t know how long it will take for we-the-masses to comprehend Einstein’s equation and re-interpret all matter – including ourselves – as energy; or, to internalize Heinsberg’s Uncertainty Principle to the extent that we stop assuming reality to be independent of the observer and understand, instead, that it is mind-blowingly a product of the observer’s intent.

But things like this, Achor’s talk, will help. Especially because it’s short, sweet and funny. Enjoy.

Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work.

Interview With Marie Forleo: On The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

Marie Forleo Interview: How To Re-Program Your Subconscious Mind To Get What You Want

 

So … I did a little video on Tuesday. Actually, Marie Forleo, multi-passionate entrepreneur, business coach and so much more, (recently featured on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday), did a little video in which I had the honor of appearing.

 

In this Q&A, Marie and I discuss the fear that increased success inevitably means less freedom. We address how and why this fear may very well cause enough resistance to keep you stuck somewhere on your path or endeavor to build a successful business.

More generally, in the segment I explain how and why we must dissipate the tension between our conscious goals and desires and the subconscious fears and beliefs that create resistance. Watch the video below to see how to ‘reprogram’ your subconscious mind to help you move toward your conscious goals and intention with greater ease, effectiveness – and in your stride!

 

After you watch the video make sure you download the free pdf below, which delves deeper into the topic. There’s a lot more detail, direction and juice in there, including some exercises. So if you enjoyed the video, you definitely want to read through this. Just enter your email address below to receive instant access:

[mailing_list_signup_box listid=”c96003d728″ bookcover=”/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/cover_svf_720x1080.jpg” booktitle=”Success V. Freedom, and How to Get Them Both”]

And if you like it (any of it), like it! Tweet it. Share it with your friends.