An Enlightenment

This poem is written as my ode to possibility – a possibility within everybody’s reach.

K

.

Descending from my frozen mountain

I meet the yawning sea,

Reflecting my many memories

Crying back at me.

.

My face lifts skyward, takes in air

A floral springtime breeze,

Reminding me of happier days

And brings me to my knees.

.

The soil invites me to rest my soul

So rich, so soft, so warm,

Inside the bosom of Mother Nature

To leave days long forlorn.

.

I bare my breast to the waking Sun

It’s song of love sedating,

With childlike wonder I breathe again

My heart no longer waiting.

.

My stretching limbs reach for the sky

Embracing life’s energy,

My mind wide open, my heart now settled

And now my eyes can see.

.

.

(c) 2012 – Kevin Collins

Our Individuality

Another post on Getting Along with Others is forthcoming.

Before I post, I wanted to upload this reminder from the recent post RELATIONSHIP: We CAN Get Along just to keep a concept fresh in our mind as we journey to the next conversation about practical tips on what we can actually DO to experience the shift in our relationships.

I decided to upload the 3 points below because, like the last entry on Fear, these are constant little reminders I keep in my head as I operate out in the world.

They are now second nature and I usually don’t even have to think about it anymore – with one exception:

When I get triggered from an incident,

I usually just have to give myself a little step back, breathe, and remember the following:

Individuality

The Goods On Fear

Here’s a downloadable graphic of FEAR if you’d like to have a reminder.  I don’t know, lol.

Kevin

______  .  ______

Life Without Fear: It IS Possible

When I tell someone it is possible to live life with Freedom from Fear, an interesting look comes over their face. They twist their mouth and raise an eyebrow as if to say, “Yeah, sure … right – like I’m afraid”.

Yet, I can also sense they know exactly what I am talking about, when a moment later they look at me with this look of confusion as they ponder the possibility with wonder and concern. (I’d like to know what’s going through their mind, lol)

(Actually, this happens a lot when I talk about things I’m not supposed to talk about – especially with guys!)

In this post, I will share with you some of my insights that can lead to possibilities to actually do what many of us see as impossible: Living Without Fear.  I’ll  include a couple of examples to make the point (so, I hope it doesn’t get too long).

Before we continue with this discussion, let’s recap what I asserted so far about fear:

______  .  ______

Fear is NOT REAL

It is just a LABEL we give to a FEELING IN OUR BODY (adrenalin)

.

OurMISTAKEN PERCEPTION of Fear can be changed

We call the feeling Fear if the moment it happens is a real or perceived threat, and

we call the feeling Excitement if the moment is pleasurable and exciting.

We can pick and choose either – OR NEITHER.

.

Fear is based on FALSE past memories

The interpretations of the feelings of fear can change over time just as the memory.

.

We CAN live WITHOUT Fear

Fear is only a STATE OF MIND.

All it takes is Awareness.

There is no work involved.

______  .  ______

Some Great Benefits To Living Without Fear

It changes our life beyond anything we could imagine.

While the changes are subtle at first, over time we begin to see a fantastic shift in our lives.

We not only transform our experience of life by the way we approach the outside world (and the colourful mosaic of individual differences), but the internal personal experience of our essence becomes magical because we have a better understanding of ourselves.

We become “intimate with ourselves and become closer with others”

  • We no longer have to live the feelings of having to do things for all the wrong reasons.

Once we peel away the layers of excuses we make up about NOT doing things we really want to do, we then realize the deep-seated fears that rule our lives rear their ugly head and expose themselves for what they are: Just a feeling I am mistakenly labelling fear!

Consider this: Compare what we do for ourself personally and what we do with our money – and see if you take the same care. With our money, we know we are taking risk regardless of what we are doing with it (even spending it).  When we make large financial decisions, we feel the adrenalin rush and it gets us a little excited (or scared as heck, lol).  After all, we are taking risk. But what we do next (if we are doing our due diligence), we do our research and maybe hire an expert for advice. As we become more confident with information, the thought about our bodily feeling changes as the adrenalin rush (or the memory of it) dissapates.

This is what happens: As we get to the bottom of information and strip away the perceived risks (that challenge our fears), we realize we can make well-founded decisions with confidence instead of fear.

  • We experience no more feelings of inadequacy.

We can pursue hobbies, career directions, activities, and opportunities we truly enjoy and are good at performing because it truly lights us up – WE CAN’T FEEL BAD – it’s impossible because we enjoy what we are doing.

For example: Instead of hiding your tiny art studio and work in your basement corner as a dirty little secret, you can take a risk (lol) and decide to show it publicly.  You decide to show at the local community centre; and lo and behold, someone actually makes an offer on a piece. Another person invites you to show at the local artisan show. Once there, you then get another buyer for a piece and you meet 3 great people to chum around with and talk art.

This is what happens: Getting outside your head and shell, you finally express yourself and experience the rush of just having someone look at and appreciate your art work. The sales are bonus, and the new art friends are invaluable and allows you to stretch your imagination and boundaries.

  • Other people in our lives become more interesting and alive.

Because we know people live with their fears (just as we do ourselves), we can be more understanding and compassionate towards them.  Conversations become easier to have with strangers because we know they are behaving out of their fears.

For example: A young man stands in the corner alone at a community social.  You see him and imagine his possible fears (as well as the look on his face) and given the knowledge you now have about people and their fears, you can understand that he is so gripped with his fear within themselves, he cannot even talk to someone.  Maybe he doesn’t want to sound silly, or say something wrong, or appear aloof.  Sounds like a number of different possible fears, huh? And he feels like that just like we’ve all been at one time or another. You realize he could probably use a friend right now.

This is what happens: After speaking with the young man, you find out he is a fledgling artist and lives with his sick grandmother. He can’t go out much, so he is house-bound as well.  You realize you know someone who could use an artist to do some web design. You link them up; and some months later, you find out he is able to get homecare assistance for his grandmother and is now enrolled at art school to take a program on web design – something he always wanted to do.

______  .  ______

Some Downsides To Living Without Fear

It goes without saying that there are some downsides to this new way of thinking and being.  But these are usually temporary and the best thing that ever happened to us (in hindsight).

1 – People are going to see a change in us right away >> and they may not like it.

They were used to us cowering, or fighting back, or screaming, or crying.  Certainly not someone more confident and relaxed.  You are not reacting any more.  And deep down, they know the fear is gone – and that changes everything.  Then we quickly see them show true colours or their true expression of their own fears.

2 – Another thing to notice as we release Fear in our life is that we may take Risk less seriously.

Risk is what makes the world go ‘round, but that doesn’t mean we could just throw away caution to the wind.  Some fears are real and require the proper investigation before taking action.

 

This EXTREMELY IMPORTANT downside to Living Without Fear
is probably the reason why we have people do reckless and dangerous things (especially among young people).  And again, it is not always apparent – but I have deep and strong suspicions.  I believe it happens immediately and ends up sinking deeply inside our memories.

The worst downside:

When we confuse or mistaken
the feeling of the adrenalin rush
as EXCITEMENT
.

Here are some examples:

Someone may drive home drunk one night and is scared of getting caught.  After a couple of times (and it doesn’t take long to imprint the memory) of not getting caught despite the feeling of fear, s/he decides (for some reason) that it is actually exciting to be breaking the law and not get caught.

After a few more times, the excitement causes him/her to take more and more in order to re-create the feeling again.  The progression of risk keeps getting higher and becomes a habit until something tragic happens.

***

Someone is living in debt and is scared of losing everything.  Deciding on fixing the problem by going to the Casino, s/he is getting an incredible feeling of the adrenalin activated because of the risk.  Once inside and gambling, the feeling gets stronger as you maintain hope of escaping the fear of poverty.

Then s/he wins a couple, and all of a sudden, the feelings of joy are connected with winning – and boy does it feel good.  Eventually, the risk associated with the feeling is exciting and escalating and we want to re-live it again and again – so regardless of the outcome at the end of the night, if strong enough, the new feeling of excitement compels him/her to come back until something tragic happens.

In the next post on Fear, I will offer some suggestions on what we can actually DO to change the paradigm of running away and actually take action in our lives so we can “laugh in the face of fear”.

The Cockroach

Again, it’s the usual Saturday night;

another cold body, another lost fight.

His face is dented from hitting the curb;

blood pools from his brain – left undisturbed.

__________  .  __________

Lifting his head, he senses a trace;

of someone nearby, invading his space.

Under cover of shadows, he spies the ground;

there lies a body – making no sound.

*

As is his instinct, he knows what to do;

‘left for the taking’, that’s all he knew.

He readies to move free from mistakes;

his raw heart races – his body shakes.

*

Inching forward, he smells the death;

he sees no movement; he sees no breath.

 A gaping mouth wide as if to swear;

and blue glassy eyes – they only stare.

*

His plan now complete, he made it in slow;

then inspects the body from head to toe.

His work is done, he reaches in a pocket;

steals the man’s wallet – and runs like a rocket!

.

.

© 2012 – Kevin Collins

RELATIONSHIP: We CAN Get Along With EVERYONE

Getting along with others in the world is probably the most difficult thing that confronts us each and every single day.

Lightning Storm of Relating With Others


For some of us, it has gotten easier over the years as we learned some little trick to help make life easier.

For many of us, it is still difficult being in relationship with others.  We may have an inkling of how things can be done differently, and some of them we use.

Still, for others, life continues to be just a string of confrontations and problems that seem to keep popping up and never going away.

Fortunately, there is hope and possibility that this can change for the better – regardless of where we fit in the above situations.  It is possible that all our relationships, from lovers to strangers, can be without the conflict that easily shows up.

By simply changing the way we see others and ourselves, it is a SURE THING to TRANSFORM your life experiences and relationships by just having better understanding of how we operate as individuals.

______  .  ______

In the last post about relationships, which is Part One to this post, I ended it by boldly stating:

It is easy to create empowering relationships

even with people that are unlikeable,
those we don’t much trust, and
people who’s lost our respect

without the head games and general feeling of
disempowerment, and/or resentment, and/or unfinished business.

.

For this post, I am bringing the conversation full circle by sharing with you my assumptions and successes that give validation to this very incredible assertion.

Here, we will look at what we can do about the never-ending conflict that surrounds us all.  I am going to make a few assumptions about getting along and how we can live with less conflict towards a more personally freeing experiences we all seek in our lives.

***

I am going to make another major assertion; this time on why we fail miserably in relationships:

We’ve been looking at and attacking the WRONG issues
when understanding and (re)building relationships.

From all of the evidence around us (politicians, criminals, armies, activists, and others), it appears we still have limited knowledge when it come to relating with each other.

______  .  ______

Family Time

Here are some different made-up named character examples and the type of relationship (to which we will refer back) of how we are inwardly being (how we think), how we express ourselves in what we  do, what is the secret threat (or the fear), what we do in our learned response to the threat (how we defend our fear), and what we get out of our relationships by hanging on to the fear (and therefore, maintaining the behaviour):

Family/Close Relationships:

  • Jim
  • Strong and the leadership type.
  • A take-charge person with family matters and is action-oriented.
  • THE POSSIBLE FEAR: Abandonment
  • When the fear is threatened from an issue, tend to seek at least one ally in the family for support. Will always be right.
  • PAYBACK: Will always have a close connection with ‘family’ throughout whole life.

Business/Work:

  • Sue
  • Quiet and invisible.
  • Does not raise issues and has few friends.
  • THE POSSIBLE FEAR: Poverty
  • When the fear is threatened from an issue, may often tell supervisors what is going.
  • PAYBACK: Better feeling of security and feels a bit of power.

Primary Relationships:

  • Bob
  • Docile and expressive with emotions.
  • Usually go along without sharing concerns.
  • THE POSSIBLE FEAR: Dying Alone
  • When the fear is threatened from an issue, may involve pouting and whining, usually from a ‘victim’ position.
  • PAYBACK: Never give others a reason to leave, and will always have someone by their side.

Acquaintances:

  • John
  • Usually happy and fun to be around.
  • Reliable and a team player.
  • THE POSSIBLE FEAR: Loneliness
  • When the fear is threatened from an issue, may get loud and boisterous sometimes leading to escalate issues.  Usually knowledge of personal details of friends that keeps a connection.
  • PAYBACK: Will be acknowledged as a respected, liked, and a trusted friend. Always have someone to turn to in times of need.

Strangers:

  • Ann
  • Suspicious and distant.
  • Untrusting and avoid eye contact.
  • THE POSSIBLE FEAR: Victim of Abuse
  • When the fear is threatened from an issue, may walk/run away or yell/scream loudly.
  • PAYBACK: Get validation for fears about other people from other people.

When considering these character traits, keep in mind that it is even possible for all of these fears to the emotional make-up of only one person.  It’s possible because we understand these kind of issues, and we can relate to them – if not in ourselves, we can see them in others (just as others would see it in us) .

______  .  ______

We can see how they act/react in such ways that
we would never know the real “deep” reason
for why they act that way.

Even more interesting,

we often don’t even know it when we do it to ourselves.

______ .  ______

So, Why Don’t These Methods Work?

In each of the people above, the pain of issues will never go away, because the real issues are not addressed. They allow the opening for more opportunities for problems and issues to arise because they will still not feel better or closer to other people.

Plain and simply:

  • First: The fears still exists – it/they have only been defended (temporarily for that instance of the fear).

Because we don’t talk about our real fears and feeling to other people, we have been trained to keep “that stuff” to ourselves – especially men; and therefore, we don’t get a deep enough understanding of other people to develop fulfilling relationships.  (Unless you want to pay a lot of money for therapy, lol.)

Because we are dealing with “what happened or is happening”, we overlook the real source of the fear. For example, maybe Sue (from above character) was born into poverty even though father was a union-man.  She witnessed a lot of violence in the workplace and came to believe management were people to fear. She developed her behaviour from the trauma in childhood and did not want to be poor again.

Another problem with this is that we then don’t get the chance to understand

we humans are all more alike than we realize: we all live and hide inside our fears we developed early on in life.

  • Second: The current methods only maintains or increases the distance we have when relating with others.

When we look at Bob or Ann, they may rid themselves of the immediate issue/threat (real or perceived) by their actions; but over the long run in their lives, they will always struggle with how they operate to get what they want.

Secretly, we know it is a ruse – or an act (headgame) – to stop feeling the loneliness, or poverty, or …

The major problem arises from the years of practice we collect to let it imprint on our memories from all our past issues. And when we look back on our lives (and be honest with ourselves), we can see links in EVERYTHING.

We can’t help what we are doing because our habits are deep-rooted.

For example, say I had an issue (fear) with feeling like people are always putting me down. I could react by arguing with people to make a point (as truth), or maybe become a loner, or by having friends below my perceived level.  I may get those feelings from way back in my childhood from, say, a mother that was always putting me down and saying I was stupid, or I lived in a community that I knew was full of poverty.

______  .  ______

Here is my understanding of relationship, and I make the following assumption:

Serene Pathway

I figure the meaning and level of relationship is:

based on OUR expectations on how the relationship should play out, which is

based on OUR values and beliefs from what we’ve learned about relating, which is

based on OUR previous experiences of similar PAST situations, which is

based on OUR secret memories of how we felt in those situations, which is

based on OUR private fears we hold from long-held, unresolved traumatic instances.

 

***

THIS IS THE SAME FOR ME – AS IT IS FOR YOU – AS IT IS FOR EVERY LIVING BEING.

We are all the same!

______  .  ______

The 3 MOST IMPORTANT THINGS to remember
to start getting along with EVERYONE:

Are you ready for what I think are the 3 key things we have to remember so it begins the process of getting along with everyone?  From the insights gleaned from above, I make these assertions about people and relationships (at every level of our interactions with people and things):

The Fawn

1

WE ALL LIVE INSIDE OUR MANY FEARS
CREATED FROM OUR MEMORIES

Let’s admit it – every single one of us on the planet
is affected by fear in some way or another.

REMEMBER THIS CAVEAT:
For the most part, we aren’t even aware how our relationships are affected so much
.

And none of us are immune to the ravages of fear because regardless of whether the fear is real or imagined, the world relies heavily on our exposure to fear and promotes it always.  We just plain cannot escape it as sure as the sun always being there.

***

 The Tigress

2

WE ARE ALL TRAINED THROUGH LIFE
HOW TO REACT TO LIFE’S CHALLENGES

The Social Norms that dictate “how we should be
are taught to us without even being aware of it!

As we know, we are taught in life to be a certain way in specific situations. All of our influences come from many sources: media, entertainment, family, friends, professional associates, financial status, etc.  We are most influenced by our primary relationships: family.

***

The Wolverine

3

WE EXPRESS OURSELVES (AND OUR FEARS)
THE ONLY WAY WE KNOW HOW

Though trial and error, we learn specifically what actions works best
when we are protecting ourselves in conflict.

Because we know this about ourselves, then it is LOGICAL to make the CONNECTION that:

“If I am this way and I am normal and average,
then other people are normal and average also.”

therefore,

“We are all THE SAME.
We just
express ourselves differently.”

______  *  ______

The Brooding Sky

So, the big question to be answered in response to the insights shared here is:

HOW THE HECK DO WE ELIMINATE CONFLICT
BEFORE IT HAS A CHANCE TO HAPPEN?

______  .  ______

If I was so bold, I would first suggest maybe consider making these 3 points a part of a conscious habit to remember.  This won’t take long, maybe a week or so before it becomes second nature and

ALL OF A SUDDEN A MIND-BLOWING SHIFT IN YOUR LIFE TAKES PLACE.

Yes, an INCREDIBLE TRANSFORMATION (NOT change) of how you look at people, see people, interact with people, and get interested in people. YES!

It will suddenly dawn on you things are different. The subtle soon becomes apparent and then sliding in your life will be this “eureka moment” or “aha!“.  So remember these 3 important things about ourselves – OUR INTIMATE SELVES – and realize we are all the same:

  1. We All Live In Fear

  2. We Are Trained/Conditioned To React Certain Ways

  3. We Express Ourselves The Only We Way We Know How

***

DID YOU KNOW: When you walk along the street and you are smiling, people are almost certain to smile back at you when you make eye contact. Try it out sometimes.

Next post on relationships, we will look at some examples of how fear rears it’s ugly head.

Values & Beliefs: The “ELM Test” of Integrity

Our integrity is all we’ve got.  It’s “our word”, a handshake”, a promise”, “showing up”, and many other acts we perform in our daily lives.

Because of this, our personal integrity is what we are measured against – and the most revealing of who we are being in that relationship.

We see it in the stories ordrama of our lives.  The Grey in our black and white world.

***

IntegrityWhenever I consider the actions of myself/others, I have this tendency to measure (judge) the motivations behind those decisions/actions.

Of course, I’m not talking about decisions to do everyday sort of things; rather, I’m talking about decisions/actions that make a relative difference in my life – especially when it comes to business with others.  I’ll explain further as we go along.

So, what is this “ELM Test” and how is it used, you ask?

ELM is an acronym for:

  • Ethical

  • Legal

  • Moral

Ethical:  working in accordance with fulfilling the principles of right or wrong (especially within a profession).

Legal:  a statutory obligation to exercising the principles of right or wrong.

Moral:  an individual conscious decision as a human being to live the principles of right or wrong.

***

The process when I use this is not only for my own behaviours, but also that of others in my ‘official’ or business relationships.

Personal relationships do not usually need the Test because they don’t involve legal or ethical questions, only the question of morality.  Of course, I wouldn’t want to chill with a Ponzi schemer or a wife-beater – that crosses the line for me.

The way in which I use this test is by questioning the motivation or logic behind my (our) decisions before I decide to take action.  By doing so, it keeps my integrity in check and lets me gauge my sincerity behind my actions.  (I am always learning about myself, too!  Ackkkkkkkk!)

.

If I profess to love people,
I better be ‘walking the walk
instead of just ‘talking the talk, right?

.

Now let me digress just a little (my little humanistic caveat).  I am by no means implying that I am this walking edifice of righteous indignation – not like I was 15 years ago when I was the top of my capitalist game.  Heck NO!  I am human too.

Like you, my dear reader, I make mistakes – and some of them intentionally.  That’s what we do sometimes.  Sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of ignorance, and sometimes out of spite.

.

Yup, we are always stretching the boundaries
of our moral compass – right?

And stuff will happen.  But …

***

When I enter a relationship, I feel I have an obligation to follow the ELM Test in order to ensure the best outcomes can be reached.  In other words – to get what I want.  There are many benefits:

  • it maintains a measure of respect and dignity for each other,

  • it allows us to know the boundaries of acceptable decisions/actions, and

  • it fertilizes the trust that is required for each other to be effective in the decisions/actions.

***

Here’s an example of how I recently employed the ELM Test:

I was recently looking for a job, and I wanted to work in a community organization doing outreach and providing support services like resume writing.  I found several opportunities (at least for summer work) that piqued my interest, so I applied.  Most replied and I went on a few interviews.

Keeping in mind that interviews are a good place and time to find out more about the agency as well.  I always want to ensure the agency is a good fit for me as well.  I always come prepared with questions for the interviewer as well as have word prompts to help me remember to make and note specific observations within the agency as it operates day-to-day.

I didn’t get a job.

I guess I could have been a little easier on my judgment of the agencies; yet, I wanted to work somewhere that was actually making some kind of difference.

After employing the ELM Test when deciding on these job opportunities, this is what I saw and determined from one of most obvious failures:

This agency’s main focus is to offer daily meals and snacks to feed the hungry, have a space to drop-in, and have access to free computers and telephone. The typical user is homeless, poor, hungry, speaks another language, men, recently landed, and between 30 and 50 years old.  The programs they offer are creative writing, painting, resume writing, how to find work, and how to write a cover letter to name a few.

FAIL ELM TEST
_______________

They failed their Ethical obligation to know the needs of the services users and offer them the programs and services they need.

To walk into the agency – and even to the untrained eye, it is obvious the service users are not in a position of using the above-mentioned services offered.  Besides language barriers, literacy is an issue.  Many are homeless and less-skilled.  Most were older men.

They failed their Legal obligation to use public funding to provide services according to the requirements from official needs assessments.

To hire staff to fill an agency need for funding does not give us value for the money we invest in human potential.  I witnessed a lot of casual conversations between staff (not with service users – they watch TV – in Spanish).

When the time came to offer the services, an announcement is made, a sheet of paper is checked, and the facilitator then goes back to the conversation at the front desk.

They failed their Moral obligation to reach into the lives of their service users and find out what they need and want to develop themselves as “productive citizens”.

Again, even to the untrained eye, it is obvious they are employed by the agency just to have a job.

.

Granted, government funding makes it impossible to find qualified staff because of funding restrictions; but at least those that do work at the agency must have some sense of compassion, integrity, or desire to help others genuinely in need The staff were just floating around looking busy, but really – they were not accomplishing much more than feeding the neighbourhood.

Given this is their main intention, they would be a better agency that address the main issues that confront the services so they indeed do make a difference – as intended!

Needless to say, I ran away from that agency.

***

I couldn’t honestly work for someone who is just playing the game of life.  I don’t want to just fill a hole – I want to make a difference in my little corner of the world.  From the results of their decisions and the actions the staff were taking, my observations compelled me to make a critical decision from this question:

Do I take the job and try to make changes from the inside,
or do I walk away and pick an issue where
I can invest my time and resources into something
that will actually achieve a difference?

I had to keep my personal goals in the social struggle in perspective – and I had to invest in my emotional balance, so I chose to walk away.

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Updated from 2009