Recently I was producing at a frantic pace. Two blog posts, and two v-logs most days in addition to my daily juggling practice. It was spectacular, but that level of production required me to partake in almost complete social isolation.
I knew doing so wasn’t sustainable, but I couldn’t resist trying and I ended up burning myself to the ground trying to prolong that level of production. On Thursday I was depressed and literally could not function.
I decided to take off work for the weekend, and although I entered the weekend about as unsocial as can be, I didn’t resist my lack of socialness. I convinced myself that it was ok to let go of work for the weekend, and I stuck to the process of socializing. I didn’t allow myself to become dependent on other people’s reactions, and by the end of the weekend I was back to normal.
I’ve seen this pattern countless times this year, and for some reason am rarely able to resist trying to grind out production until I’m literally unable to function. While most people’s biggest flaw is laziness, mine is that I lack the restraint to stop myself from working.
Honestly, I’m writing this post just as much for me as for as anyone else. There is something I’ve noticed, however. There have been conditions in the past that allowed me to prevent myself from burning myself out. What are they you ask? Hard rules.
Instead of telling yourself to eat healthier, tell yourself to remove all refined grains, and added sugars from your diet. Instead of telling yourself to “get in shape,” follow a structured routine such as Starting Strength.
In the case of socializing don’t tell yourself to be more social. Tell yourself that you will go to social events “x” times per week. I never realized it made such a difference, but I socialize significantly more when I’ve got a hard rule in place for how much I need to be going out.
I’ve also consistently performed at higher levels for more sustainable periods of time when I regularly socialize so it’s a no-brainer to re-implement this hard rule in my life.
Of course, that’s just me. Everyone has a different thing they tend to cut out first when they’re working excessively. Perhaps you stop eating healthy. Maybe you stop exercising and let your sleep schedule to go to hell. It doesn’t matter.
Everyone has that one pillar they let crumble first. If you want to prevent burnout and produce more in the long run you’ve got to identify that pillar. When it begins to get shaky you’ll know you’re beginning to enter the territory of burnout, and when that happens you need to have a hard rule in place.
If you tend to cut back on sleep you can’t just tell yourself to sleep more. Soft rules don’t work because it’s too easy to make rationalizations for them. If you’re going to hold yourself accountable you need a hard rule of sleeping 8 (or however many) hours per night.
The only way to prevent the crash is to keep all your pillars reasonably solid. If one goes down you’re going down with it. It’s inevitable.
Dedicated three full days solely to socializing and am feeling much better now. New rule is to socialize at least twice per week during the school year, and at least four times per week during vacations.
I see a lot of intelligent people walking around with a feeling of superiority. They walk around thinking they’re better than everyone else because they’ve studied self-improvement or because they’re moderately intelligent. I can relate with these people because I used to be one of them. What most people don’t realize is intelligence doesn’t mean shit.
For almost two years before the launch of cameronchardukian.com I studied writing, internet marketing, and blogging. I knew all the strategies, and tactics and I was certain that as soon as I started a blog I could be successful. I thought I was a genius. The problem? For one I wasn’t a genius, but moreover I didn’t have the courage to start my blog until nearly two years later.
A lot of guys who study pickup read books, and watch dozens of videos, and on an intellectual level understand much more than even the most socially calibrated naturals. The only problem? They don’t go out, and apply what they’ve “learned” in the field, and thus they never internalize and embody the things they preach.
Want another example? I know a girl who wants to play soccer for the school team. She’s told me she “knows” she could make varsity. I asked her if she enjoys playing soccer. She said, “Yeah of course.” “Then why don’t you play?” Her response? In a defensive manner, “I-I-I already know I can make varsity. I-I know I can, so wha-what’s the point?
If you haven’t picked up on the problem yet it’s that many “smart” people personally identify with being intelligent. As a result, they paralyze themselves from taking action. Within the confines of your own mind it’s easy to avoid failure, and protect your ego.
However, the moment you take an action that risks failure you also risk destroying the egoic identity you’ve built for yourself. When you personally identify with failure, you perceive it as a threat to who you are because failing would destroy the intelligent persona you’ve created for yourself. The solution?
Refusing to identify yourself with being intelligent. Of course, that doesn’t mean you view yourself as an idiot. It simply means that intelligence becomes something you do rather than something you are.
In Eastern philosophy terms this may be taken as separating yourself from your ego, and understanding the voice in your head that identifies with being intelligent isn’t you. It’s merely an ego you’ve created through the false identification of self with your intellectual mind rather than your spiritual being.
In simpler terms, however, it simply means that you view your approach to life as intelligent rather than identifying your personal being with intelligence.
If your blog isn’t generating much traffic it’s because your approach to blogging isn’t intelligent. It’s not that you’re stupid. If you walk up to a girl and she rejects you it isn’t you that she rejected, it was merely your approach.
This entire line of thinking sounds like an insignificant shift in perspective, but from personal experience I can tell you that once you stop personally identifying with being intelligent you’ll feel completely unstiffled when faced with challenges.
This doesn’t mean achieving your goals will be easy, as you’ll still have to exert lots of effort, but you’ll no longer be paralyzed either. You’ll open yourself up to taking massive amounts of action, and you’ll produce results at an astonishing pace.
It’s New Year’s. Everyone is ready to begin working towards change.
It’s Valentine’s Day. Everyone is taking time to show their significant other just how much they care.
It’s April Fools. Everyone is playing practical jokes, letting loose, and laughing over the silliness of life.
It’s Mother’s Day. Everyone is showing their Mothers just how much they appreciate them.
It’s Memorial Day. Everyone is showing their appreciation for those that have served in the military.
It’s Thanksgiving. Everyone is taking time to appreciate just how wonderful their lives really are.
It’s Christmas. Everyone is being kind, and they’re generously showering those they care about with love.
All of this has got to get a man thinking. None of these days are different from any other day except that we’ve arbitrarily assigned value to them. Valentine’s Day could have easily been in June instead of February.
Knowing this, it’s important we recognize something. We don’t need the permission of an arbitrary date to act in alignment with our morals.
What if we aimed to be as kind as we are on Christmas everyday? What if instead of waiting for New Years we treated everyday like a clean slate? What if we took just a couple minutes everyday to be grateful instead of waiting for Thanksgiving?
There’s no reason we can’t. Will we always succeed? Of course not, but we don’t need anyone else’s permission so we might as well try.
I wasn’t doing too well yesterday morning. Nearly three hours after I’d woken up I’d accomplished nothing. I’d spent the first three hours of my day browsing the internet in the most unfocused way possible.
I’d see an interesting video then open up another tab, then I’d see a cool picture and open up another tab. Mind you, this wasn’t even “research” I was just bored and seeking stimulation. Three hours later, I’d finally snapped out of the low level trance I was in and felt disgusted by how I’d spent my morning.
It wasn’t the first time I’d gotten lost in the endless stimulation of the internet, but I’d made the decision that it was going to be the last. I disabled my computer’s internet, had my father put a passcode restriction on my iPod’s internet, and committed to doing work.
The result? In the remaining 11 hours of my day I’d written three blog posts, cleaned my entire closet, meditated, put in a two hour practice for juggling, eaten several meals, paid my fees for the continued use of the cameronchardukian.com domain name, edited two blog posts, edited an upcoming v-log, and freestyle rapped for half an hour.
That’s more productive than I’ve ever been! Even more interesting than that, however, was my restlessness whenever I wasn’t doing something. In between tasks I had the constant urge to check email, to listen to self-improvement Youtube videos, to read blog posts.
Whenever I wanted my mind to remain calm and present to the moment it wandered. I was disturbed by this. I realized I needed to gain some perspective in my life and change was necessary.
For the next thirty days I will all but eliminate my consumption of media. The only website I will be allowed regular access to is my blog. However, I do need to continue uploading my v-logs to Youtube as my blogs posts are published, but I’ve set a strict restriction of five minutes per day. If I try to spend additional time on Youtube, WasteNoTime will automatically block me.
I also will not be checking my email, Twitter, or the blogs I’ve subscribed to via my RSS feed. I may allow myself to skim my inbox once as a security precaution halfway through the experiment, but I will not read my messages nor check it more frequently than that.
In addition, I will not watch television (which I haven’t in years), play video games (which I haven’t in years) or read books, magazines, newspapers, etc. I will continue to read blog comments, and perhaps I’ll read an instruction manual if it comes with one of my Christmas or Birthday gifts, but that’s it. 😉
I also will greatly limit the amount of music I listen to. The only times I’ll listen to music are on the morning car rides to school as I don’t want to burden my carpool buddy, background music that’s otherwise unavoidable, and I’ll also continue to listen to beats while practicing freestyle rap. In total I expect to be listening to less than an hour of music per day.
The big exception to all of the above is school. I’m reading a novel in English class so it would obviously be impossible to not read at all, but I have less than 100 pages remaining in the novel so this is a relatively minor caveat. On occasion we also use the internet or listen to foreign language music at school, but again, it’s a minor caveat considering the rarity of these occasions.
I also plan to be reasonably social about the experiment. I’ll still go to basketball games to socialize even though they often play music. If my friend asks me to look at a funny picture on their phone I’m not going to be a douche about it.
Overall, however, I’m still going to be consuming very, very little this month.
What’s The Point Of The Experiment?
Of course this entire experiment is obviously strange. Why intentionally remove yourself from some of the greatest conveniences in human history? The answer is exactly that. They’re conveniences.
(1.) I think the internet is a great tool, but many people (myself included) have never learned how to properly use it. Books are great too, and I don’t plan to stop reading the rest of my life. Sometimes, however, I engage in unconscious behaviors that do not properly leverage these tools and as a result I want to take a step away from them to break bad habits and gain perspective.
(2.) I also want to develop my attention span. It’s pathetic that I can’t eat without cravings for consumption and my mind growing restless. I’ve desensitized myself to stimulation, and because of that I require relatively large amounts of it to remain engaged with life.
Once I reduce external stimulation I should be able to appreciate less and create my own internal stimulation. I should be able to just enjoy breathing, the cold breeze, and the sensation of food on my tongue.
(3.) I want to eliminate my dependence on others to think for me. Whenever a question pops into my mind I immediately run to Google without ever thinking about things for myself. That’s just not right. Consulting others on their opinions is fine, but at some point one has to learn self-reliance as well.
(4.) I want to produce more unique blog content. I’ve noticed that often my writing oscillates to the consciousness of whoever I’ve been consuming a lot of lately. For example, my last post sounded an awful lot like Eckhart Tolle. I’m not saying I copy the people who I consume from, I balance the things they say with my experiences and perspective, but at the same time I often end up speaking in a very similar tone to them.
I think picking the brains of successful people is extremely valuable, but I’ve already read dozens of books, and tens of thousands of blog articles. I’ve already got more than enough information and perspectives in my head for the time being, and I think my big epiphanies are going to come through the development of my own unique voice, and ideas.
(5.) Finally, I think this detox is going to allow me to attain an entirely new state of productivity. I’ll be spending less time in the gray area of neither resting nor working, and as a result should be able to produce a lot more.
In addition, I believe that when the brain doesn’t have access to external stimulation it’ll need to learn to stimulate itself. Therefore, if I’m not consuming dozens of self-improvement theories, my brain will then stimulate itself through the pondering, and creation of its own theories.
As strange as it may sound this entire experiment is extremely exciting to me. You may not be interested in going to the same lengths I am, but I’d invite you to create your own stimulation detox if you’ve noticed similar cravings and restlessness within yourself. I think this experiment will be hugely beneficial and insightful for both of us. 🙂
Picture is of me obviously having way too much fun in a bouncy house. (Picture from July 2013)
Our brain has a confidence preservation mechanism called self-serving bias. This mechanism is the reason many people attribute success to luck rather than a deliberate effort. The purpose of self-serving bias isn’t to give you the most accurate model of reality, but rather to provide your brain with a belief system that’ll contribute to the development and preservation of your self-esteem.
Self-serving bias works through your Reticular Activating System. This is the medium through which you perceive reality. Because the amount of sensory information surrounding us at any moment is so immense our Reticular Activating System works to focus our attention on whatever it thinks will most benefit us.
For example, If you’re talking with a friend, and an attractive member of the opposite sex walks by, your attention will wander. If you’re maxing out on the bench press or squat you’re probably not focused on who you’re going to hang out with this weekend.
For the most part the Reticular Activating System’s filtering of reality is wonderful. If it didn’t exist we’d constantly have our focus shifting from our breathing, to our plans for the weekend, to the feeling of our fingernails growing.
However, because of self-serving bias our Reticular Activating Systems often work in a manner that serves to steer us away from truth. It’s easier for our brain to attribute success to luck rather than admit our own inadequacies. It’s easier to attribute success with women to looks or money rather than admitting our behavior towards them needs changing.
Unfortunately, once you enter this trap it’s extremely difficult to escape because your brain filters all new beliefs through your foundational model of reality. In other words, people identify with their beliefs, and because of this attachment they actively seek out stimuli to reinforce their beliefs while filtering out that which conflicts with their beliefs.
If, for example you believe success with women is the result of being rich you’ll actively seek out proof of rich men that are successful with women while ignoring or making rationalizations for examples of average or poor men being successful with women.
Imagine self-serving bias as viewing reality through a red lens. I can tell you the whole world is full of blue, but until you let go of your identity with your beliefs and drop the red lens you’ll be unable to see blue.
So, the question then becomes how do you stop identifying with your beliefs? Many people try affirmations. I’ve tried affirmations in the past, but found them generally ineffective (for myself at least), and have since developed an active, simple way to let go.
Now bear with me as this is somewhat new agey, but the biggest epiphany I’ve had in letting go of identification with my beliefs is realizing that it isn’t me that’s letting go of my beliefs. Think about that for a second. It’s not you that’s identified with your beliefs. It’s merely your ego.
You are not your ego. The voice in your head isn’t you. How could it be? You’re perceiving it. The real you is not the voice in your head, or even your physical body. Those are just the mediums through which you interact with the physical reality.
The real you is the observer. This is something Eckhart Tolle teaches. When you say, “I can’t live with myself.” Who is the myself that you cannot live with? It’s not you, it’s your ego.
The biggest reason we lack presence to the moment is because as a society we’ve made the most pivotal inaccurate assumption of all. That we are the voice in our heads. That we are the ego.
Under the belief that you are your ego identifying with your beliefs is safe because it allows for the preservation of yourself. To drop the identification with your beliefs would be to threaten your sense of self. To do so would threaten your sense of being.
Thus, the most effective way to change your beliefs surrounding the world is understanding that you are neither your ego, nor your beliefs. Because you’ve lost touch with your true self those were only the vehicles you identified with to maintain a false sense of self-esteem.
When you let go of the false sense of self you’re able to tap into the natural sense of self-esteem that is the default state of the human experience. Happiness is the default state unstifled human beings experience. Once this is realized identification with any belief becomes unnecessary because you’re already experiencing a genuine sense of self-esteem, and happiness.
Of course, you’ll never be perfect at being present to the moment, and letting go of your ego, but through daily meditation, and conscious effort you can tap into human beings’ default state of happiness and greatly reduce the amount self-serving bias affects you.
Picture is from December 2011
Also, I’m experimenting with a new design on the blog. If any regular readers have feedback on this post or the blog’s new design I’d love to hear it.
We’re now halfway through December, and this is about the time most people begin thinking about their New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, according to an infographic from online investment company Betterment, only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
Of course, different sources cite different percentages of those who realize their New Year’s resolutions, but the point is very few people realize the goals they set for themselves. Why? Much of the problem lies in the work ethic of the average person, but an equally large issue is that most people set poor goals for themselves as well.
Developing a stronger workethic has been covered elsewhere on my blog, so for the remainder of this post we’ll focus on where most people goes wrong in their goal-setting, and how to set better goals for yourself.
The Problem With Setting Arbitrarily Timed Goals
The first reason setting New Year’s resolutions doesn’t work? They’re far too arbitrary. It’s tempting to wait until January 1st to make a change, both because it’s in the future, and because it seems like a convenient time for a clean slate. Unfortunately, few changes occur in the clean fashion we expect them to. We work out for a couple weeks, and then we slack off. Then we get back to our training, and then we fall off again. Change isn’t linear, it’s a process of ups and downs, and it’s very rarely cleanly cut.
Waiting until New Year’s to begin working on a goal is the same as a drug addict saying they’re just going to get high one last time. It’s an easy way to justify your actions, but ultimately it only disconnects you from truth, and makes future change even more difficult.
If you’re serious about making a change you’ll begin working on it today. If you’re not, you’ll make an excuse… Or a New Year’s resolution 😉
Setting Goals That Matter
One of the biggest reasons people aren’t able to realize their goals is that their goals don’t matter. At least to them.
We’re constantly being influenced by family, friends, media, and society on what’s “right” or “cool.” We’re constantly losing the essence of who we are in social conditioning. Everyone is. Even if you don’t consume mainstream media, things such as this article are still influencing the way you think.
So what’s the solution? To stop looking for outside entities to give you the solution. You already know what you need to do. You may have repressed the very things that bring you to life, but within the depths of your subconscious they still exist. You just need to bring them back to the surface. This sounds very poetic, and seems like somewhat of a mental circle jerk, but it’s the truth.
If no particular direction in life is giving you passion I’d say the best solution is for you to simply move in a direction that allows your brain to function at a higher level. Depending on your circumstances this may mean different things such as healthy eating, exercising, meditating, working, socializing, or reading.
In the United States we tend to equate more with better. More girls, more money, more workouts, etc. Unfortunately, we also tend to think more goals are better as well. This isn’t true though, at least in most cases.
As human beings we’re creatures of habit. We do possess the unique ability of being able to change our habits, but we usually overestimate our ability to do so. We think we can tackle a dozen goals at once, but doing so rarely works.
It’s been said humans have a finite reservoir of will power, and if yours is being divided between 10 different goals it’s likely you’ll fail in all of them. The solution? Well, actually there’s several.
One solution is that you focus on one, maybe two major goals, and put the rest of your life into maintenance mode. This’ll give you a good chance of making solid, steady progress on the most important of your goals.
However, if your life’s a complete mess you may find another more dramatic line of action is necessary. Letting everything burn while you focus on improving one area of your life. Fat, tired, poor, and unloved? In that case it’s probably best to focus on exercise, and diet while you let everything continue to go to hell. Improving your health will allow your brain to function properly, and provide you the brain power needed to make progress on your other goals.
The final solution is the most dramatic, but if one has the discipline to stick to it, will quickly produce results at an astounding pace. The solution? Creating an upward spiral throughout your whole life. If you eat healthy it’s likely you’ll have energy to exercise, and if you exercise you’ll sleep better, and if you sleep better… well, you get the point.
Think Actions, Not Results
Focus on the actions you need to take, rather than the results you wish to produce. Intelligent goals focus on things within your control rather than random variables.
You can’t will yourself to fall in love, but you can go out 3-4 times per week to greatly increase the possibility of it. You can’t will yourself to 10,000 subscribers on Youtube, but you can post a video every week, and put forth your best effort to make each video a little better than the last.
By setting specific actions for yourself that’ll progress you towards your goals you greatly increase your likelihood of achieving them.
Prepare For The Inevitable Slip Up
Good people make bad decisions. You can’t always be at your best. This means at some point you’re probably going to slip up with your goal. That’s ok. Just prepare yourself. Arrange your circumstances to make slip ups a minor, infrequent occurrence, and accept that you’ll inevitably make mistakes at some point.
When you do, don’t beat yourself up. Acknowledge the situation, but don’t dwell on it. Don’t deny what’s happened, but don’t make it out to be worse than it actually is either. The only way to make amends for the past is to create a better future, and that’s what you need to focus on.
Identify how you can prevent yourself from making a similar mistake in the future, and then get back on track as soon as possible. Resist the urge to fall off the rails completely.
Through the application of these five tips you’ll have a much greater chance at achieving the goals that matter to you.If you’ve have any questions, or additional tips feel free to post them in the comment below 🙂
Picture is of me during 8th grade year when I decided to try football.
Good people make bad decisions. Why? Because even “good people” aren’t always operating at a high level of consciousness.
Similar to our mood, our consciousness is constantly oscillating between higher and lower level frequencies. Highly conscious people may spend more time at higher levels of consciousness, and have a higher range of consciousness, but they’re also going to spend some time in lower levels of consciousness occasionally.
On an average week I may only spend an hour randomly wasting time on the internet, but when I’m at my worst I may spend 10 hours in a single day wasting time. Similarly, someone who’s riding a high streak of consciousness may eat a completely clean diet, but if they’re going through a tough time that same person may eat a diet consisting of almost entirely junk food.
99% of the time I may take positive actions, but because of the oscillating nature of consciousness I’m going to make poor decisions that are completely uncharacteristic of me 1% of the time. The key is to be aware that you’re going to be susceptible to making poor decisions and prepare yourself for those situations.
Preparing Yourself For Moments Of Lower Consciousness
1. Make your decisions during moments of higher consciousness. The worst time to make a major decision is when you’re depressed, or frustrated. Why? Because once you exceed a certain level of stress, or dip below a certain level of base happiness it’s nearly impossible to access your highest level mental resources.
At some level of stress or unhappiness your mind shifts from logical thinking to instant gratification thoughts seeking to alleviate your current situation as quickly (though often with no regards to sustainability) as possible. Making your decisions when you’re thinking clearly will allow you to make the best decisions you’re currently capable of.
2. As a general rule of thumb, don’t make major decisions while in your lower levels of consciousness. This rule may have to be broken if your life is in a state of perpetual lower level consciousness, but generally sticking to the decisions you’ve made during your moments of higher consciousness is a good guideline.
3. Discover what triggers your moments of lower consciousness. A big one that few people consider is sleep deprivation. When you’re low on sleep you’re operating at a lower level of awareness, and your will power decreases as well. Also consider people that bring out the worst in you, major causes of stress/negative emotions, and circumstances that particularly tax your will power.
If possible eliminate or limit the people or things that lead to your lower moments of consciousness, and when not possible make your major decisions during times away from those people or things. After those circumstances occur also be aware that you’re operating at a lower level of consciousness, and thus your judgements will be less accurate than they normally are.
4. Develop, and commit to a lifestyle that increases your range of consciousness. You’ll always experience lower levels of consciousness to some extent, but you can greatly reduce their frequency, and greatly increase the average level of consciousness you operate at.
This is what the majority of my blog, and other personal development resources focus on. By eating a good diet, exercising, meditating, reading good books, developing a social life, constantly challenging yourself, etc., you’ll be able to operate at a much higher level of awareness, and greatly decrease the frequency and severity of your lower level moments.
Wasn’t able to articulate my thoughts quite the way I wanted to here, but I hope you’re able to take some value from this post anyway.
I captured this post’s picture at the Milwaukee Public Museum.
All the beliefs you’ve acquired throughout your life were a perfect match for you at some point. If you were poor you likely preserved your ego by believing rich people were jerks, or that they had cheated the system. If you were at a low level in the social hierarchy you likely thought popular people were douchebags.
All beliefs serve us at the time they are first acquired. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t acquire them. However, regardless of where your beliefs originated it’s important to recognize dated beliefs and challenge their validity in your current life circumstances.
An example of this in my own life is the belief that popular people are douchebags. It’s a belief I’ve held as long as I can remember, and for most of my life this belief served me. As a kid I didn’t have the social skills to relate with those at the top of the social hierarchy, so rather than admit my own inadequacies I simply dismissed them as being jerks.
Was this an accurate assumption? Of course not. In reality there’s actually more assholes at the bottom of the social hierarchy, than the top. But I couldn’t see a way to become one of the popular kids so I held this belief for years because it allowed for the preservation of my confidence.
Here’s where things get interesting. In elementary, and middle school I was a socially clueless video game addict, but over the last few years I’ve developed a kickass “Alpha” lifestyle. I lift weights, have cool hobbies in juggling and rap, I write for this blog and make v-logs, and I’ve begun to develop passable social skills as well as a social life. In short, I’ve become a man on purpose. For a couple years now I’ve possessed the traits necessary to elevate my status, surround myself with “better” people, and enjoy life more.
However, despite this, I stayed right where I was. Comfortable at the bottom of the food chain. It took almost two years since the development of this lifestyle to begin to disintegrate my outdated belief. Why? Because I identified with being of the lower social class.
As human beings we have a tendency that I like to refer to as “belief inertia.” Essentially, the longer we hold on to a certain belief the more difficult it becomes to let go.
If you’ve been overweight your whole life your problems likely extend far beyond your actual diet and exercise regiment. Sure, you’ll lose weight if you diet and exercise properly, but that’s the problem. You won’t diet, and exercise properly because you identify with being overweight. It’s who you are. Or at least who you believe you are. Best case scenario you’ll lose weight, but gain it all back shortly after.
Why Do We Have Belief Inertia?
We have belief inertia for the same reason our bodies have homeostasis, for safety. If your body temperature increases or decreases by 10% you’re in big trouble. Similarly your brain see radically different beliefs as a threat.
You need to remember that your genetics motivate you to survive, not to thrive. Your brain has little motivation to replace your current beliefs if those beliefs already allow you to survive, and reproduce.
Also important to remember is the brain would rather make assumptions than feel uncertainty. In other words, if your brain doesn’t know the answer it’ll make one up. Your brain has a confidence preservation mechanism so that when it does see opportunities it has the confidence to take them.
Dissolving Dated Beliefs
Activities are compromised of masculine, and feminine energy. Activities compromised of masculine energy are those in which you attack. Think football, and proactively taking action to achieve your goals. Activities compromised of feminine energy are those in which you yield. Think dancing, or learning. You don’t attack learning, you yield to the process. Similarly, you don’t attack your beliefs, you dissolve them.
You can’t bully yourself into not believing something. However, you can yield to the process of dissolving an outdated belief. How do you do that? By providing your brain with proof rather than promises that a given belief is non-threatening, as well as effective.
Proof Rather Than Promises
Think back to the cavemen days. If you were wandering by yourself and you ran into another tribe of cavemen you’re be cautious and rightfully so. One inappropriate glance at the alpha male’s wife, and you were speared to death.
You couldn’t promise your brain, “Don’t worry little buddy. Everything’s going to be alright.” No, you were going to be uncomfortable until you had learned the social order of the tribe and been around them for an extended period of time, thus providing your brain with sufficient proof that you were safe.
Similarly, because of this belief inertia we still need to do the same thing today. You can’t logically convince your brain that you belong in a certain class of the social hierarchy. You have to prove it. I developed the lifestyle of an “alpha male,” but I didn’t begin to notice significant improvements in my place of the social class system until I began hanging out with higher caliber people, and thus proved to my brain that I belonged there.
Regardless of what kind of beliefs you’re dealing with you’re going to have to do the same.
Although all beliefs serve us when we first acquire them, more often than not they begin to hold us back as we ourselves evolve. Changing your beliefs is difficult, and often painful, but ultimately the evolution of a belief system more and more aligned with truth is what’s going to allow you to produce the best results as well as live the most fulfilling life possible. That’s what I want for you.
Picture taken in Arkansas near my Grandma’s old house.
It’s funny. We watch commercials on TV. We see the team holding the trophy, we see the man with the completely jacked physique, we see the rapper killing it on the mic. But for some reason, we rarely see the processes that go into producing these results.
We’re never shown the team doing repetitive menial drills during practice, we never see the man eating salad while the rest of his friends eat pizza, we never see the endless hours the rapper scribbles rhymes in his basement, but does that make those moments any less relevant?
As a culture we’ve become addicted to setting goals, and producing results. Nothing wrong with that. The problem is we don’t understand goals are only a means to an end.
Pick up artists think it’s the girl that’s going to make them happy. Businessmen think it’s the money. Jugglers think it’s going to be landing a certain trick. They’re all wrong. I was wrong. We’ve all been wrong.
It’s been said that there’s two ways to improve your level of being. To work within your model of reality, and to work on your model of reality.
If you set goals for yourself, and are actively working to improve yourself you’re already working within your model of reality so let’s instead focus on working on your model of reality itself.
Self-Acceptance Vs Self-Improvement
When we first acquire beliefs they always serve us. If they didn’t we’d never acquire them. I don’t know your circumstances so I can only share my experiences, but here’s what I’ve found.
People who think achieving things, or acquiring material possessions will make them happy often come from a background in which they didn’t have an ecosystem of positive emotions. As an out of shape, socially clueless video game addict I didn’t have anything that made me happy in life.
I was attempting to escape reality through video games. Eventually I discovered personal development, so like most new personal development enthusiasts I began setting goals. And as time passed I became happier.
But was it getting 6-pack abs, or learning to juggle 5 balls that made me happier? No. The achievement of goals simply became a new version of hope for me. Personal development became my new escape. I had this vision that when I’d acquired “x” blog subscribers, or learned “x” juggling trick, or got “x” girl to fall in love with me I’d be happy.
It was always cool learning new juggling tricks, but as soon as I’d learn one trick I’d then convince myself that I’d be happy when I could do “x” trick. Or I’d convince myself that it was cool that “x” girl liked me, but I’d be truly fulfilled when I could get “y” girl to fall in love with me.
What I didn’t realize this whole time was all of my goals were simply a means to an end. I’ve previously talked about material possessions being a means to an end, but I’ve since discovered that goals are the exact same thing. Achieving goals isn’t what makes you happy.
Fulfillment comes from the process. I never realized that I was arbitrarily setting goals to give myself permission to be happy, when I could simply choose be happy. It’s not mastery that bring fulfillment, it’s walking the path of mastery that allows you to be happy.
There’ll always be a bigger mountain to climb, but that’s no reason not to enjoy hiking up the one you’re currently on.
Fulfillment comes when self-acceptance and self-improvement meet. I may never be a master, but because I’m walking the path towards mastery I can accept that.
Picture is from my visit to the Milwaukee Public Museum earlier this year. And yes, it’s a real butterfly!
Blog post on how to drop beliefs that no longer serve you coming Thursday.