Throwback Thursday: The Ego Shell and Emotional Armor

muscular

That’s me in July of 2011.

I recently came across this picture again… And you know what? I never even realized how muscular I was then.

Seriously, I didn’t. Body dysmorphia is an insidious delusion. Our minds play tricks on us more often than not.

At that point in my life, I was dead set on achieving perfection in every aspect of life. I NEEDED to be the fittest, smartest, funniest, wisest and most creative person in the room, simultaneously; at all times. Now how about that for some constant pressure based on unreal expectations?

If I could sum up my belief system, it would be this – Nothing was ever good enough.

Of course, there are far worse problems to have. But this is an exposé of the more shadowy delusions so many of us face (or choose not to face).

It’s not all bad though. This mentality greatly helped me in many, many ways. Due to this hyper-imbalance towards the warrior archetype, I’ve been able to learn, apply and do so much within a short span of 28 years. I’m grateful for that, though I recognize it no longer serves my highest good.

I now know this phase needed to happen in order to get to where I am now and to give me massive momentum in the direction I’m going.

With that nod of gratitude, I want to dissect for you the psyche behind the muscular frame you see in that picture…

Layer 1: Emotional Armor

I’m a sensitive person, a prototypical Cancer in that sense. Up until very recently, I would take any criticism like an arrow to the heart.

When I started working out and seeing results, it was like discovering armor against criticism. Since I was wrapped in my ego and focused on the illusion of perfection (among other things), I created a need to protect myself emotionally. I feared criticism, so I devised ways to mitigate it.

I felt like being muscular gave me armor against criticism. It was an ego shell. I thought that because I was “jacked”, people would be less inclined to criticize or make fun of me when I would act like my weird, authentic self.

It worked, for the most part, and it did help me to get more comfortable with who I am as a unique individual. But I needed to address the root. Why was I afraid of criticism in the first place? The revelations I describe below helped me drop that fear.

Now I no longer need emotional armor. I have nothing to defend, no false identity to parade to the world. Sure, I stay pretty fit. But the difference is, I don’t give a fuck now, whatsoever. I love myself no matter what (except sometimes when I forget to).

Last year I actually took a few months off of working out. I just did a lot of yoga and walking. Why? Because I needed to go into my feminine side and allow myself to evolve, instead of forcing it or unknowingly closing myself off with a hyper-masculine, stubborn attitude.

This more yin approach worked wonders and I was able to go through some incredible transformations. Then after a few months, I felt ready to ground back into my masculine side again. So I started working out again, but from a place of self-love, not to build emotional armor.

Layer 2: Perfectionism

Perfectionism was omnipresent for me throughout most of my life. I still even need to be mindful of perfectionist tendencies.

Much of perfectionism is due to cultural conditioning. Our parents and teachers praised us only when we did something they labeled as good. The media perpetually force-feeds us with artificially projected images of perfection for every aspect of life.

So many of us are slaves to our ego, which drags us along on the roller coaster of superiority and inferiority. No aspect of our society teaches us to embrace our uniqueness and accept ourselves as we are right now.

Perfection doesn’t exist (in this reality at least). We’re all imperfect beings. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Imperfection allows for uniqueness and continuous improvement. That’s so beautiful, so… perfect. In a paradoxical way, we can find perfection in the imperfection of everything.

For me, as I said before, nothing was ever good enough. I was critical of others, but even more critical of myself. My inner judge was a slave driver, constantly pushing me. I thought salvation was found in some future achievement or in becoming something more. My sense of self-worth was tied to the chaos of external circumstance.

For a deeper dive into perfectionism, check out my article How to Overcome Perfectionism

Layer 3: External Worthiness

I used to believe that I could attain worthiness by achievement. Oh, how that resulted in unrelenting difficulty. Again, this is culturally perpetuated and many of us have this belief to some degree.

I would not love myself as I was in any given moment. Instead, as I said before, the hope of salvation was somewhere in the future. But tomorrow never comes.

Self-worth is a journey all of us face. We all must go within and remove the debris we’ve piled on top of our essence. That’s the key.

The ironic thing for me is that my perfectionism made me want to improve every aspect of myself, even regarding self-love. Recently I got to a point where I felt clear and free. I still have certain hang-ups and delusions, yet I’m mindful of them and I accept my imperfections.

I got so good at solving problems and shoring up weaknesses. But then I realized that this need to correct everything was the very thing blocking me from true self-love. So in essence, I raced down the highway of personal growth, only to find out that my biggest lesson was to enjoy the scenery.

I’ve cultivated unconditional love within myself (most of the time). And because of that, I’m now able to love others unconditionally.

Love… that’s what is underneath all of the layers.

The biggest paradox of self-improvement is that we’ve had what we were looking for all along. We just couldn’t see it.

Thank you for reading.

– Stevie P!
 

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Why TLC Was Wrong About Chasing Waterfalls

Multnomah Falls

Hi, my name is Stevie… And I’m a waterfall chaser.

I also don’t stick to the rivers and the lakes that I’m used to.

Now you might be all like “But TLC said ‘DON’T go chasing waterfalls!'”

Yes, they did. I love that song (90’s music has a special place it my heart), but I disagree with the message of the chorus…

“Don’t go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to”

I remember when it first hit me. My thought process went something like this… “Wait, so they’re telling me to stay in my comfort zone and never take risks? Fuck that.”

I get the meaning behind the verses; avoid the destructive aspects of life like violence, drugs, addiction and precarious sex. That makes sense, obviously. But the chorus is the antithesis of what I believe to be good advice.

If all you do is stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to, you’ll be a slave to your comfort zones and live a life of lukewarm mediocrity. Nope, not for me. I’d rather explore.

Hiking Oregon

Comfort Zones Are Worse Than Death

Always sticking to what you’re used to is not living, it’s just barely existing. When you stay in your comfort zones, you basically live the same day over and over again for 75 years and call it a life.

There is no learning in that; no exploration, adventure, mystery, fun, fulfillment, excitement or growth. Comfort zones stifle growth. Life without growth is just dying slowly.

Build a habit of stepping out of your comfort zones. You can even start with tiny steps, such as turning your shower cold for the last 30 seconds. With a cold shower there is no risk, a ton of health benefits and you build the muscle of leaving your comfort zone.

Show me someone who continuously leaves their comfort zones, and chances are they’re someone who finds courage, success, fulfillment, passion, excitement, personal growth and what it really means to live.

At the end of your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do as opposed to the things you did do. Build some momentum in the direction of new experiences and continuous growth.

Waterfall Oregon

Act In Spite of Fear

We all feel fear, especially when stepping into the unknown (exploring rivers and lakes we’re not used to). What separates the hero from the coward is taking action in the face of fear. Everyone feels fear, but the hero chooses to be courageous despite the fear.

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”
– Brene Brown

Being courageous doesn’t mean being stupid or impulsive. It means not letting fear determine your decisions and taking calculated risks.

How do you build courage? Again, start with small steps. You don’t have to go climb a volcano and slay a dragon right off the bat.

Waterfall Thailand

Courage Momentum

One of the keys to truly living is building what I call “courage momentum.”

Here’s how you begin to build courage momentum. Notice things in life that make you slightly uncomfortable and take action when you feel that resistance.

Cold showers, like I mentioned before, are a great way to practice this. Another way is to say “hi” to people in public, even when you feel awkward. You can also try a new food or a new recipe. You can take a weekend trip to somewhere you’ve never been. There are so many courageous micro-decisions that you can make each day.

If you practice small acts of courage daily, you will build unyielding courage before you know it. This is what I call “courage momentum.”

Lake Titicaca

Follow Your Heart

The two main motivating forces are love and fear. Choose love over fear in every situation.

Fear is constriction and limitation. Love is expansion and growth. Fear is the essence of your ego. Love is the essence of your higher self.

Notice when your ego tries to run the show. Be aware when it attempts to manipulate your decisions based upon fear. Simple awareness robs the ego of its power and gives you the choice.

Don’t chase the desires of your ego. Don’t run from home out of fear. That’s how you end up like the sad stories TLC warned us about. Explore because you truly want to explore, and follow your heart.

Trust your intuition and make decisions out of love. Be courageous, not limited by fear.

Explore, learn and grow. Just remember to follow your heart, choosing love over fear, and you will discover beautiful new lands.

So here’s my perspective on the situation…

DO GO CHASING WATERFALLS.

Much love.

– Stevie Wander

PS – Every picture in this post was taken by me, while chasing waterfalls.
 

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A Completely Different Perspective On Trump’s Presidency (This Will Make You Think)

Note: This article was written by Bernhard Guenther and originally appeared on Collective Evolution. I don’t usually re-share articles, but this article is phenomenal and so necessary.

Considering the hype around the latest celebrity statement about Trump by Meryl Streep and the upcoming ritual to put “the man” into “power” officially (which will most likely result in protests by moral, upstanding patriotic citizens), I thought to repost what I wrote (trigger warning!) right after the election.

Hint: This is going to come down to you, and it’s deep!

Here’s the thing from a basic Jungian perspective: Trump is your shadow, America, a reflection of your unconscious, especially concerning people who identify themselves as Leftist, Liberals, and Progressives, their own shadow which they never deeply acknowledged, and hence project outwardly at the “other side” in their “holier than thou” political correct attitude, over-estimating themselves and dreaming to be awake.

The self-inflation, narcissism, greed, the “bigger is more,” the “quantity over quality,” the entitlement, the hypocrisy, the drive for recognition and fame, the “best” in the world, the bully, the “money can buy everything,” the racism and sexism, etc…..or anything else you despise in the man….it’s all you, buried in your unconscious. It’s also the shadow side of the “American Dream” and obviously reflected in America’s Imperialism.

It’s About You!

Anyone who identifies him/herself as “Liberal,” “Progressive,” “Leftist,” and projects disgust, hate, or anger on to this man, (really anyone who is triggered/irritated by Trump beyond political identifications), or reacts with fear, sadness, worry: you are looking at your own shadow and it won’t go away if you keep up with these reactive projections and look for external solutions or a different “leader” to follow or project your “hope” onto while still believing in the religion of government (which feeds off of the polarization and perpetuates separation consciousness) based on illusory tribal/national identification and adherence to/worship external authority constructs.

Moreover, nothing will change but will in fact reinforce the schism as long as you keep identifying with any side because it defines the other side. One cannot have the one without the other as long as you feed and play into this game of fabricated false duality which is exactly how Empire controls you – all entirely based on illusory socially/cultural conditioned identifications and beliefs which you are so attached to and define yourself by. It’s the basis for population control and social engineering, reinforcing the Stockholm Syndrome and “invisible” slavery/prison out of your own “free will.”

prison

But here’s the real “shocker.” Trump is actually your “teacher,” for he creates more friction and shadow triggers, hence more potential to wake people up from an esoteric alchemical perspective (Clinton would have been the sleeping pill for most people, even though she’s the more dangerous psychopath, hidden behind the mask of a “woman”), but only if people take back their projections and engage in some serious and sincere soul searching cutting through their programed socially/cultural conditioned identifications to ignite the alchemical fire within.

Any negative reactive emotion you have towards the “man” (including his silly tweets) or his supporters is a sign of giving away your power and life energy (literally). It shows you where you work is when it comes to basic Jungian psychology of shadow work until you can come to a place of non-reactive zero-point consciousness rising above fabricated duality and tuned into your true inner power and guidance, connected to Spirit and the wholeness of nature: a sovereign embodied Individual.

If you do that sincerely and go deep, you will finally stop believing in and supporting this religion of government (that was never, ever in place for the people and never, ever can give you true freedom), and realize that it was never about Trump, Clinton, Sanders or any other authority statist puppet to begin with, stop this silly idea of “voting for change” and fragmented mechanical/programmed search for “external solutions” and “leaders, worship of authority and then really, really question everything you believe in and have been told/taught, and most of all drop and let go of your identification, which just feeds the polarization. This the path towards a true shift and evolution of consciousness. Anything else is just going in circles, re-arranging the furniture and tapestry of your prison cell (you are not aware of), instead of breaking out of it.

And that is not a comfortable (internal) process at all for it entails utter disillusionment and taking full responsibility without blame and externalizing. Nobody can do it for you and nobody is going to save you. It takes tremendous humility and sincere self-honesty facing the lies within, which make up your conditioned personality, which is not who YOU truly ARE but mistake for you real Self. It’s much easier to project outwardly, protest, look for the next leader and keep up with the futile idea of fragmented “activism,” new “systems” and “external solutions,” all based on the fragmented male aspect of consciousness (your inner unconscious tyrant projected on Trump) removed from the wholeness of the feminine aspect of consciousness (nothing to do with gender) that is tuned into the wholeness of nature.

In the end, America got the president it “deserved” and when you act like slaves, looking for a leader/savior to follow, you get masters…and always will, as long as you support and believe in the religion of government, regardless what system is implemented. Also “democracy” seems like such a good idea until you don’t get your way, right? (oh, I forgot, it was the Russians messing with the election…right, of course….whoever you want to blame and keeps you from looking deeply within into your own shadow).

Obama mirror

That’s just on the surface 3D level. From a hyperdimensional perspective, all the anger and disgust, anything projected on the “man,” the polarization, protests, revolts, hypocritical speeches of statist celebrities about “empathy,” “equality,” and “protecting truth,” engaging in this unconscious shadow dance and reacting mechanically (and programmed) is exactly what the occult Matrix overlords and Empire want you to do and feed upon. In fact, that frequency is all they are after for it strengthens your slavery and sustains them, no matter what puppet they put in place for you to identify with or project anger on. It’s the old game of divide and conquer…and the Matrix has you.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. Everyone carries a Shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.”

~ Carl G. Jung

—————-

“At every turn, the synthetic culture of Empire implores us to throw our hearts and minds into unconscious polarization. It wants us to radicalize ourselves to either patriot or terrorist, believer or atheist, white or black, liberal or conservative, strong or weak, and then embark on an endless crusade to reform, condemn, or destroy the other side. This one-way polarization renders all participants impotent, regardless of which side they pick. This subtle but devastating trick deactivates our will and we automatically forfeit our capacity to rule ourselves. Lost in unconscious polarization, we serve Empire.

Mass culture is a control mechanism that devalues the individual. It is aimed solely at promoting collectivism. It seeks to enforce the dependence of the individual human on a collective group and the priority of group ideologies over individual life paths. It is, at the base level, the very heart of socialism, communism, fascism and totalitarianism. It employs nationalistic impulses to setup polarities of antagonism that exclusively benefits a set of ruling elites. At the top level, the elites fully comprehend that there are no distinct nations, ideologies or cultural imperatives to speak of. To them, there is only power and no power.”

~ Neil Kramer

—————-

“[Look] at what happened in 1914 – or for that matter at all that is and has been happening in human history – the eye of the Yogin sees not only the outward events and persons and causes, but the enormous forces which precipitate them into action. If the men who fought were instruments in the hands of rulers and financiers, these in turn were mere puppets in the clutch of those hidden [hyperdimensional] forces.

When one is habituated to see the things behind, one is no longer prone to be touched by the outward aspects – or to expect any remedy from political, institutional or social changes; the only way out is through the descent of an [embodied] consciousness which is not the puppet of these forces but is greater than they are.”

~ Sri Aurobindo

 

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The Openhanded Life

Openhandedness

“Hold on is what they say
But I say open up your hands and let it fly away
Until the day it comes back and it was meant to be
Take a look at the lovely gift the world has sent to me
Don’t suffer you got to maintain
The rougher the storm gets the more they complain
They don’t aim
They shoot sporadically
Panicky and so dramatically
He ran frantically
Summarized by the look in his eyes
He couldn’t hold on after one too many tries”

– Aceyalone

Do you feel the need to clutch onto everything you desire?

Most of us do. We’ve been conditioned that we must grab what we want and hold onto it for dear life. This applies to everything, from our identity, to our goals, to our relationships, to money, and everything in between.

What if I told you that life is more about letting go than holding on? Well, that is if you want to be happy, fulfilled, present and at peace. If you want to cause yourself more suffering, feel free to stop reading now.

Enter: Openhandedness

Openhandedness is characterized by releasing that fearful, egoic clinging to everything, letting go, generously giving and cultivating the ability to receive.

An open hand can both give and receive, while a closed fist can do neither. If we look at the two basic motivating forces, fear and love, openhandedness is based in love while a closed fist is based in fear. Fear is constricting, an inhibitor to growth and a creator of unnecessary barriers. Love is opening. Love is growth. Love is freedom.

Openhandedness doesn’t necessarily mean walking around with your hands out 24/7 like you’re a Jesus figurine or something. It’s a metaphor for your general mindset. If you’re always so constricted and closed-off, you’ll never have the opportunity to give or receive. A closed fist is also used to cling onto things. And so many of us desperately cling to every part of our lives, for fear of losing whatever it is we’re clinging to. This is absolutely exhausting and completely driven by fear and scarcity.

“Let go or be dragged.” – Zen Proverb

What happens when you cling to a person too much? They feel suffocated and push you away. What happens when you cling to your money? You drive yourself crazy worrying about it, poison your relationships and cut yourself off to making more. What happens when you cling to your identity? You end up pigeonholing yourself and block any spontaneity or change from coming into your life.

This is the mode that most people live in, especially in modern western society. I was completely controlled by this mentality myself until fairly recently. It’s a byproduct of being possessed by the ego, living in fear and not trusting the process of life. That’s a miserable way to go through life.

Yet a magical shift happens once you allow yourself to let go and trust the process of life. That which is meant to come comes and that which is meant to go goes. When you live an openhanded life, you give generously, receive often and joyfully flow with the unfoldment of each moment as it arises. Good things come and go, their beautiful fleetingness thoroughly enjoyed. Challenges are adeptly addressed then let go of. Situations come and go. People come and go. Those who remain in your life remain because they truly want to, not because you fearfully cling onto them. The openhanded life is beautiful, free flowing and rooted in unconditional love.

Lupe Fiasco has a brilliant reference to openhandedness in his song They. Resurrect. Over. New, saying “It’s a new year, every time I open my hands.” When you live an openhanded life, you’re rebirthing yourself in every moment. You’re effortlessly allowing life to spontaneously unfold and dynamically change.

Note: Openhandedness is not synonymous with inaction. When you’re openhanded, you align your actions with the flow of life. You harmonize all aspects of your being instead of letting your ego try to control every situation.

The Main Characteristics of Openhanded Life

Generosity – Giving with an open hand. Giving freely and without expectation. Loving openly and wholeheartedly.

In giving more you receive more. How do you receive more love? By giving more love! Now you might be saying, “This doesn’t work for something like money. You can’t get more money by giving more money.” Well, here’s the thing; if you give more in every aspect of life, you will cultivate a life where you do have more money (and more abundance in general). If you give generously, provide value and help people, you will inevitably find yourself in opportunities that make you more money (professional connections, entrepreneurial opportunities, job promotions, a better job…etc.). So while it may not be an exact 1:1 ratio (ex/ giving $50 and getting $50 the next day), be open to your giving and receiving coming in many forms.

Being Open to Receive – Knowing that you’re worthy of receiving (we all are). Being open to things, situations and people coming into your life when you least expect it. Receiving with gratitude.

Letting Go – Releasing your fearful vice grip to everything. Practicing the power of surrender. Allowing things to unfold as they may. Living motivated by love and without attachment. Remember, attachment is based in fear.

Abundance Mentality – Having an abundance mentality as opposed to a scarcity mentality. The belief that you will always get what you need and you will always be provided for. The belief that there is enough for everyone. The belief that love is an infinite resource.

Faith – Faith in the process of life. Faith in the universe. Faith in your intuition. Being able to trust that things will come into your life when needed.

“It’s a belief: Life is always happening for us, not to us. It’s our job to find out where the benefit is. If we do, life is magnificent.”
– Tony Robbins

Harmony – Harmony is being in alignment. There is no discrepancy between your desires, your intuition and the flow of life. All aspects of your being synergistically work together. When living in closed-fisted fear, the ego attempts to control every situation, which as many people find out, often does more harm than good.

When you intuitively live and act in harmony with the flow of life, life takes on a level of beauty and serendipity that you never could’ve imagined from the limited viewpoint of egoic fear. This sounds like overly poeticized rhetoric but I know it to be true, both from personal experience and the stories of many, many other people.

Spontaneity – Flowing with life, dynamically adapting to any situation. Sailing with the winds of change. Not clutching onto what was or how things could be. Living fully in the present moment and truly enjoying life.

Now that you’ve read about openhandedness, it’s time to apply.

Live that #openhandedlife

Much love.

– Stevie P!
 

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How the 2016 Election is Revealing Our Collective Sickness

fat fast food

Artwork by Steve Cutts

As a collective, we’ve become perilously unhealthy.

If we were to think of humanity as one organism, we’re akin to an obese person who is realizing just how unhealthy and overweight we really are.

Seeing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as presidential nominees is like that first hard look in the mirror at our bulging, blubbery, naked body that we’ve been avoiding for a long time.

“Wow, I’ve really let myself go. I have to do something about this.”

That’s how it goes when the delusional trance of denial is finally broken. We’re becoming acutely aware of just how unhealthy we are and how much we’ve been deluding ourselves up until this point.

The mainstream media has completely disempowered our mindset with fear-based programming, our metaphorical couch has become too comfortable to leave and there are many institutions in place that profit off of our junk food consumption and collective sickness (note: both physical and metaphorical junk food consumption and sickness).

This situation is literally forcing us to reevaluate everything and choose new ways to live, or passively welcome our own death.

I don’t have to go into the details about how both candidates don’t have the people’s best interest in mind, or that democrats and republicans are two wings of the same bird (the illusion of choice), or that presidents are selected, not elected, or that the US government is an illusory democracy (technically an oligarchy) which is systemically corrupt to the core. We all know, on some level, that just about every major system on the planet is not serving our highest good. It’s pretty obvious for anyone with eyes to see. But it comes down to this, we need to figure out more harmonious ways to live as humans, and it all starts from within. If we’re possessed by our own egoic delusions and fearful within, everything we create externally will be a manifestation of that.

“Tomorrow, I’m going to start eating healthy and working out.”

This commitment to health is the next step after someone realizes the staggering extent of their unhealthiness. Yet without deep conviction, self-love and consistent action, this initial spark of inspiration will fizzle out.

We must shift our mindset to health, then take consistent action towards the achievement of health. We need to change our lifestyle and our overall ways of thinking, living and being. It all starts within us. We must be the change first. Because if there is not a strong internal change first, we’ll eat a salad for one meal, then quickly slip back into the old patterns that created our sickness in the first place. This is why revolutions, without the foundation of a shift in consciousness, just end up as oppression under a new mask.

Sure, being healthy sounds good, but how do we get there? We’ve never eaten healthy before and we don’t know the first thing about working out. But we can learn. There’s knowledge out there (and more importantly, in there). There are better ways of doing things and there are people who have achieved success in all areas of health. We can learn, and through consistent effort, become that healthy, vibrant person we always knew we were.

It’s up to us to get healthy from the inside out. No longer can we blame our unhealthiness on all of the factors outside of our control; how convenient McDonald’s is, how busy we are, how expensive healthy food is or even our genetics. We need to step up and literally embody health ourselves.

“I don’t even know what to eat though.”

It’s time we do some research and come to our own conclusions as to how to eat healthier. There isn’t one diet that is perfect for everyone. We’re all unique and thrive off of a wide array of foods. It’s not even that complicated, the key is to eat as naturally as possible and trust our intuition. Even if we have no idea about health, we do know this… This fast-food, cotton candy oligarchy is killing us and we need to stop consuming it all.

“I don’t think I can do a hard workout. Plus, I’m unsure about how to even start.”

It’s all about being simple and consistent. That’s how long-term, lasting results are achieved.

The best workout would look something like intuitively exercising according to our needs and pushing ourselves to the limit while listening to every part of our body in the process (metaphor hint: anarchy – the absence of government), but we’ll probably pass out or hurt ourselves if we tried that right now. We can, however work towards our ideal level of fitness.

Maybe we need a personal trainer to teach us and help us transition to becoming our own personal trainer, with keen body awareness and strength that inspires others. We’ve always viewed the personal trainers as something scary (outside of our comfort zone), as they’ve been so counter to our lifestyle, but we can learn a lot from those doing things differently than we have. I mean, look where our complacency got us.

“It’s going to be a long road, but I’m committing to change.”

This isn’t going to be an overnight process. It’s going to take months, or probably years to even get close to where we want in terms of health.

And non-metaphorically, personal change can take years, and collective, externalized change takes much longer than that.

Essentially, we’re at the point of realization, where we need to look within, evaluate our options and work towards the direction of health. This will most certainly be a multi-generational process, so while we can’t expect ourselves to live in a utopian society next year, we can undoubtedly move ourselves in that direction.

There are better ways of doing everything; energy, money, government (or lack thereof), education, disease prevention/curing, housing, transportation, farming, food, work…etc. We must find the courage to gradually let go of the old, embrace the new and work towards a better world. No matter how unhealthy we are, as long as we’re still alive, health is always an option. And it all starts within you.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What kinds of junk food (both physically and metaphorically) am I consuming?
  • What am I doing with my life to create a healthier collective humanity?
  • What internal fears or delusions do I have to get rid of in order to contribute as best as I possibly can?
  • What actions am I taking on a daily basis, no matter how small, to bring about a healthier collective?
  • The simplest way to be a catalyst for positive change is to choose love over fear in every situation. I urge you to vote for love in every moment.

    Cheers to creating a healthy collective.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    The Blossom of Femininity

    blossoming femininity

    The dance of the yin and yang, feminine and masculine energy, has always been of great interest to me.

    What adds to the intrigue is how imbalanced these energies have been throughout history (his-story). The shadow side of the masculine has dominated and controlled, suppressing the feminine and relegating femininity to its own shadows.

    Since society doesn’t provide us with ideal versions of these energetic archetypes to put into practice, we must create our own.

    This is why I’ve been exploring and defining my own version of masculinity. And in doing so, one word seems to exemplify masculine, or yang energy: Giving.

    Helping, serving and supporting are all expressions of this true masculine/yang energy characterized by the spirit of giving. This interpretation of the divine masculine can take many forms, giving any type of love, helping someone in any way, material giving, the giving of undivided attention, emotional support (a shoulder to lean on)…etc. This kind of giving is unconditional and from a place of compassion, not fear-based or done in a “strings attached” manner.

    A major role of this true, giving masculine, in my opinion, is to provide a safe space for the divine feminine to thrive. A strong masculine energy rooted in love can give femininity, not only within women but also within men, a safe place to fully express itself and blossom. This is not possible with the assault of domination and control from the shadow masculine, which suppresses and squashes the fruits of femininity. The divine masculine must support the growth of the divine feminine (not work against it) in order for humanity to live more harmoniously. Our world urgently needs the blossoming of femininity and its defining qualities like intuition, creativity, holistic thinking, compassion and cooperation.

    In the spirit of this topic, these concepts are far better conveyed in more feminine, poetic language than masculine, hyper-rational prose. That’s why I’ll leave you with a poem…

    The Blossom of Femininity

    Too often we’ve seen the shadows
    Masculine
    Dominant and violent
    Feminine
    Deceptive and vain

    Forgive the fear
    It’s time we embody the archetypes
    Through the incarnation of love

    Giving
    Is the essence of masculinity
    The masculine must serve the feminine
    For the dance of duality to flow
    Not a servant-to-master dependence
    But out of the free spirit of giving
    The strength of providing
    Providing space for the feminine to blossom
    Providing safety for the feminine to express

    Just as the sun shines its light unconditionally
    Ever-giving energy to Gaia
    Our light must shine the same
    Unyielding and unconditional
    Nurturing intuition
    Cultivating compassion
    Harvesting harmony
    To engender the flowering of the heart
    And see humanity in bloom

     

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    The Power of Surrender

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    In our modern Western culture, the word “surrender” is thought of as negative.

    The basic definition of surrender is “to yield to the power of another.”

    It has become synonymous with giving up and viewed as an irrevocable display of weakness. But, contrary to popular belief, the act of surrender may possess far more power than you’ve ever imagined.

    Let’s look at another interpretation. In the religious context, surrender “means that a believer completely gives up his own will and subjects his thoughts, ideas, and deeds to the will and teachings of a higher power.” (Wikipedia)

    I’ve come to view surrender as something slightly different than what both the dictionary and religious definitions imply. To me, surrender is letting go of your egoic sense of control and allowing the rational mind to yield to a higher purpose. (“Higher purpose” meaning that it’s beyond and more expansive than the ego, the rational mind and physical reality.)

    While the religious perspective has some innate wisdom, I don’t believe that this higher purpose or higher power has to be something separate from us. Separation is a physical illusion, as everything is connected on some level. We are multi-dimensional beings, whose layers eventually roll up to Source, God, the Infinite or whatever you believe is the essence of everything. However, simply heeding this intuitive wisdom, whatever that source may be, is more important than debating about exactly what it is or if it’s something separate from us or not.

    This higher purpose often comes in the form of subtle intuition that the conscious mind can’t quite grasp. It can also be a deep-seated feeling (aka gut feeling) that you can’t completely rationalize but know to be true.

    Surrendering to the Flow of Higher Purpose

    I’m not going to say it’s God or angels or spirit guides or higher self or Zordon, because I don’t know for sure. But there is undoubtedly some source of intuition that subtly feeds us information and guides us in certain directions. I’m just calling it “higher purpose” for the (higher) purpose of this article (see what I did there?). Plus, it reminds me of the great Buckminster Fuller quote “God is a verb.”

    Surrendering to the flow of higher purpose is ultimately a surrender of the ego and its controlling tendencies. It’s also a surrender of the problem-solving/problem-finding mind to heart-wisdom or intuition. There is less logic and rationality involved, but more feeling, trust and an intrinsic sense of knowing. You release all fear and flow with a higher aspect of yourself that sees beyond what your conscious mind does. While the conscious mind only sees the next step, the intuition sees the entire journey.

    Trying to control life with your egoic mind is like trying to walk on your hands (your hands being your egoic mind and your legs being your higher purpose/intuition/heart-wisdom). Sure, you can walk on your hands, but your legs are so much more capable of walking. Besides, your hands are of far more use when they’re free. It’s just like how your mind is sharper and more useful when you’re not exhausting or stressing it 24/7. Let go of that inner egoic control-freak and surrender to the mysterious wisdom of your heart’s intuition. Remember, the mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.

    Think of this higher purpose as a stream carving through the landscapes of life, always leading to the ocean called “What You Need Most for Your Growth” (Yeah, it’s an ocean with a long name). You can choose to flow with this higher knowing, or go against it. And we all know what happens when we go against our intuition…

    Additionally, surrender doesn’t mean being a victim or just sitting around waiting for things to happen. It means heeding your intuition, surrendering to that higher knowing and moving with faith, knowing that your intuitive compass is pointing you in the right direction (because it always does). Another major component is surrendering to the moment.

    For more in depth articles on ego, intuition and all of that good stuff:
    How To Hone Your Intuition
    What Does Your Ego Look Like?

    Surrendering to the Moment

    Though blind faith in man-made systems without any critical discernment can leave you vulnerable to manipulation, not having faith in anything is just as debilitating (if not more so).

    Trust the process of life. Have faith that everything happens for a reason. Trust that life is unfolding for your highest good. Well, what’s the other option anyway? Living in perpetual fear and doubt!? Eh, no thanks.

    “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

    Surrendering to the moment doesn’t mean not changing anything. It’s simply an acceptance of what is, accepting that what is happening is indeed happening. There is none of the paralyzing, insidious self-denial that slowly gnaws away at your well-being. Accepting the moment (what IS) actually puts you in a better position to change or maximize your situation than not accepting the moment.

    For example, if it’s 2PM and you surrender to the fact that you’re stuck at work for three more hours, it puts you in a position to make the most of it. But if you resist what’s happening, you guarantee yourself complete misery for the next three hours. Here’s another one: If you’re overweight and you accept it, only then can you make the lifestyle changes to make yourself fit and healthy. But if you’re in denial of the situation, that self-delusion will prevent you from facing reality and making a change.

    The Journey of Life

    Learn to let go of your sense of egoic control and trust the flow of life. And paradoxically, when you do this, more of your desires come to fruition. Life is strange, right?

    Your intuition is your built-in GPS (higher purpose), trust that it’s bringing you to the right place. Just keep your eyes on the road (be in the present moment) and your hands upon the wheel (ready for action).

    Feel the paradoxical power of surrender.

    One love.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great remains ad-free and I’d like to keep it that way. As you probably know, a lot of work and focus goes into maintaining a website and regularly posting publishing quality, life-enhancing articles from the heart. If you find value in this content, please consider supporting Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great. You can become a monthly contributor with the amount of your choosing.


     

    What are You Hiding From Yourself? 14 Ways to Discover Your Blind Spots

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    I thought I had it all figured out a few months ago…

    My ego loved the (false) sense of elitism that came from the (small) amount of wisdom I had accumulated and the personal growth I had achieved.

    This sense of egoic comfort allowed my blind spots to subtly suffocate my growth and choke out my compassion towards others. As Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars would say, “It’s a trap!”

    Luckily, I realized that my ego had snuck in through the back door. Deep down I knew that, in the grand scheme of things, I had next to nothing figured out, so I decided to shake things up a bit. In a hopscotch of faith, I leapt into innumerable experiences that shattered any sense of “having life figured out” and launched me to unforeseen levels of self-discovery and growth.

    These experiences included 5 months of (mostly solo) world travel through 10 countries, meeting hundreds of amazing people, journaling every single day of my travels, having cathartic experiences at the Osho center, attending a few yoga retreats and workshops, getting certified in kinesiology, learning Siddha healing, practicing many different meditation techniques, jumping into new relationships, communing with Ayahuasca in the Peruvian Amazon, struggling to communicate with my weak Spanish speaking skills, hiking Machu Picchu in pouring rain, learning how to surf, going to the Envision Festival alone and embarking on countless other adventures that catapulted me out of my comfort zone. All of this intensely illuminated so many of my blind spots, quantum-jumped my knowledge of self and spurred so much improvement that I still haven’t assimilated it all. And I’m still riding this momentum.

    “We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” ~ John Wheeler

    The more you know
    The more you realize you don’t know
    And you don’t know
    What it is that you don’t know
    Until it’s known
    But you do know
    That you don’t know everything
    So rest in the fact that there’s always more to know

    We all have blind spots, forces that we’re completely unaware of that may be holding us back.

    The human mind, though it’s an immensely powerful tool, is littered with self-deception and cognitive biases. It’s so easy to trick ourselves, and over time, deepen the groove of a skewed view of reality.

    That’s why one of the most important things you can do is take an objective look at yourself and reveal your blind spots.

    What if your comfort zones are actually false fortresses of security that are doing you far more harm than good? What if everything you’ve been basing your reality on was a lie? What if every aspect of your life is really based on false assumptions, feebly held together by other false assumptions to rationalize the former false assumptions?

    We’ve all seen the extremes of self-denial and glaring personal blind spots… The religious zealot who ignores overwhelming evidence contrary to her rigid, literal interpretation of the bible and believes ridiculous things like the idea of Jesus riding dinosaurs. The corporate guy, whose identity is so wrapped up in materialism, that he goes to great lengths (buying fancy clothes, watches and cars, having beautiful girlfriends just to impress others, exorbitant vacations to show off…etc.) in order to fill that feeling of emptiness inside. The high school friend, who has hesitantly convinced himself that he’s happy still living in the same hometown, working the same job and going to the same bar every Friday night. These epitomic cases may seem sad and even pathetic to us, but we’re all guilty of self-denial to some extent.

    In order to become the greatest version of yourself and make the most out of life, you need to be able to observe yourself from an objective perspective. You need to call yourself out on your own bullshit. Everything from your most fundamental beliefs, how you view reality, your sense of what is possible, your identity, your habits, your patterns, your limiting beliefs, your assumptions, your false confidence, your fears, your egoic desires, your intuition, your intrinsic motivations, your reactions to external stimuli, your view of others, your freedom (or lack thereof), how you move your body, your choice of music, your choice of entertainment, your sources of information, your biases, your community, your inhibitions, your different personalities among different people, your dietary habits, your addictions, your vulnerabilities, your childhood pain that you’re still carrying, your biggest fear for the future, your self-judgments , your comfort zones, the excuses you make to yourself, the labels you mindlessly slap on things, the little lies you tell yourself, the secrets you’re hiding in the depths of your psyche, the truths you’re afraid of being true, the reason why you were born…etc.

    As you can see, there are a lot of potential blind spots out there (or in there). Here’s how to develop a perspective of increased self-awareness, put yourself in a position of continuous personal evolution and be genuinely YOU-nique.

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    14 Ways to Discover Your Blind Spots

    1. Meditation

    Meditation cultivates a state in which you can objectively observe your thoughts and emotions. We often go through life completely consumed by our thoughts and emotions, not being able to witness them. This is why meditation is so crucial. With practice, you will create awareness regarding your emotions, thoughts, habits and patterns.

    This state of awareness makes change possible. If you go through life oblivious to your patterns, because you’re too engrossed in them to know what’s going on, you’ll never be in a position to make a change. As the old proverb goes, “The fish would be the last to discover water because they’re immersed in it.” Meditation can take you out of the metaphorical water of your assumed reality and help you realize “Wow, I was really IN THERE this whole time?”

    If you’re new to meditation, try starting out with my 21 Breath Salute. It’s so easy and takes less than 5 minutes to do.

    2. Intimate Relationships

    Intimate relationships are the most powerful tools for showing you your own weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

    Your partner is like a mirror of your own internal state. Your fears, limiting beliefs, doubts, delusions and repressed emotions are reflected in intimate relationships.

    One example of this is getting angry at your partner for forgetting something. Chances are that you get angry at yourself for forgetting things, and because this person is so close to you, you do to them whatever you do to yourself. So get to the bottom of why you get angry at yourself for something so asinine. Did your parents do it to you? Do you put pressure on yourself to never make mistakes? (And where does that belief come from?) Share this revelatory process with your partner as you go through it. You’re on the same team, right?

    Here’s another example. If you have a fear of abandonment from, let’s say, your father leaving you as a child, you will find yourself desperately clinging to relationships, even when it’s obvious that it’s not to your benefit. But you have to have some degree of self-awareness to be able to see this play out in your life (as well as a self-aware partner who can help you to realize these things as they come up). Otherwise, you’ll just blindly repeat the cycle over and over again.

    You need to open to love to be in a relationship. And when your heart is open, you’re also vulnerable. This is why past pain that you thought you had hidden resurfaces. This is why your ego takes many bruises and why certain words penetrate to the core of your fears.

    When an intimate relationship is honest, open and transparent, you will see all of each other’s deepest blind spots. Then you have the choice to work through them, or ignore them, letting them forever influence your life from the shadows of your subconsciousness.

    3. Close Family and Friends

    Family and friends can be similar to intimate relationships, though less of a “mirror” because our focus isn’t on them like it is on an intimate partner. (Although it can be very strong if you have children, because your complete focus is often on them. This is why having children can teach you so much about yourself.)

    With family and friends, honest relationships are paramount. Surround yourself with people that love you enough to call you out on your bullshit and wake you up from your self-delusions.

    I’m not saying to obey everything that other people say, but pay attention to the words spoken from the heart of someone you care deeply for.

    4. Plant Medicine

    Plant medicines are some of the most powerful catalysts for self-realization and growth. Some examples of plant medicines are “magic” mushrooms, Ibogaine and Ayahuasca (which I’ve done myself and wrote about here).

    Plant medicines will help you see where your blind spots are, reevaluate your life, examine your fundamental beliefs and aid you in breaking out of the patterns that don’t serve you. It’s like a crash course in self-improvement. Before you dismiss plant medicines as drugs, be aware that there’s a growing body of research regarding the healing effects of psychedelics on addiction, depression and mental disorders such as PTSD.

    When used in clinical or ceremonial settings, these sacred plant medicines have profound healing properties.

    5. Be Aware of Cognitive Biases

    A cognitive bias is defined as “a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion. Individuals create their own “subjective social reality” from their perception of the input.” (Wikipedia)

    One prominent cognitive bias is called the backfire effect, which is when you reject evidence that contradicts your viewpoint or conclusion, even if you know that the evidence is true. How many times have you seen people do this? A lot, right? And I bet you’ve done it too. I know I have.

    Another notable cognitive bias is the bandwagon effect. This is when the probability of one person adopting a belief increases based on the number of people who hold that belief. The bandwagon effect is a testament to how powerful groupthink or herd mentality can be. Don’t overlook the possibility that your most fundamental beliefs may be based on false premises and they’ve only been collectively accepted, not because they’re true, but because of phenomena like the bandwagon effect.

    This article outlines 57 different cognitive biases that us humans can have. And there’s probably more too that we very well be unaware of.

    Get familiar with the many variations of cognitive biases and ask yourself the tough questions: On which topics are my views biased? What cognitive biases do I have? Which ones am I most vulnerable to? In what kind of situations do they arise? What viewpoints am I vehemently or even irrationally defending? What am I desperately trying to justify? Maybe there are cognitive biases at play.

    6. Build Ego Awareness

    The ego is sneaky, cunning and a terrible master. If you become a slave to the ego and let it run your life, you will be engulfed in a world of endless fear, judgment, deception and self-sabotage.

    Know when your ego is trying to run the show. Learn to differentiate between your egoic desires and the genuine desires of your heart.

    Your ego will wrap its identity in labels (nationality, race, religion, gender…etc.) and constrict you in the process. It will have you stubbornly defending ideas that you’re not quite sure are true. It will have you clinging to comfort, blocking out any exposure to growth.

    Read my article “What Does Your Ego Look Like?” for a deeper dive into the ego.

    7. Investigate Your Resistances

    Resistance is the ego at work. If you have great resistance towards something, look into it. It will often be your ego resisting something that is actually beneficial for you.

    The classic examples of resistance are politics and religion. People are so emotionally attached to their ideologies (and there are so many cognitive biases involved) that even a mild counterpoint is met with hostility and defensiveness. If you notice this kind of resistance in you, see where it comes from. Are you afraid that what you cling to will be gone? Do you think you won’t have an identity if you step outside of the box of the political/religious ideology you follow? Are you merely following an ideology based on the fear of consequences if you don’t?

    If you have extreme resistance towards something, it’s probably something you’re desperately trying to suppress and it’s driving you crazy in the process. Examine everything with an open mind and meet resistance with love.

    8. Be a Beginner Again

    Try something new where you have to start from square one. If you’re an intellectual, try learning how to surf. If you’re an athlete, try playing chess.

    Taking on something completely new and foreign will shake you out of your comfort zones, make you vulnerable (in a good way), uncover weaknesses (or strengths that you never knew about), highlight any stubbornness you have, enable you to connect dots from seemingly unrelated areas and catalyze so much learning in a short period of time.

    9. Get Out of the Echo Chamber

    This is closely related to trying something new.

    An echo chamber is “a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an “enclosed” system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented.” (Wikipedia)

    Sometimes, we get so caught up in our niche communities (especially online), that we don’t realize that it could be an echo chamber. The extreme version of this is something like Scientology, but I’ve seen various degrees of “echo-chamberism” from spiritual communities to scientific communities and everything in between. It’s cool to connect with like-minded people, but just make sure that you’re not illogically rejecting things to hold up false premises. Question everything and always exercise your critical thinking faculties.

    If you’re a floaty spiritual person, switch it up and read some scientific literature. If you’re scientific-minded, read some spiritual stuff. If you’re a hip-hop head, listen to some classical music (the real OG’s). All of this will give you a completely different perspective on things, make you more well-rounded and spur so much new insight it will blow your mind.

    10. Find a Group Setting that Facilitates Self-Discovery

    Attend a retreat or a workshop. These kinds of events are designed to be learning experiences provide you with new perspectives in a concise package.

    Every retreat and every workshop I’ve ever attended has revealed profound insights that were previously blind spots for me.

    11. Put Yourself in Other People’s Shoes

    See the world from someone else’s perspective. Visualize their perspective in detail. Think about their motivations, point of view, beliefs, fears and how their experiences have shaped who they are. Have empathy and compassion and truly understand their point of view.

    This kind of empathetic visualization will greatly expand your perceptions give you a unique perspective on your own life.

    Also, studying the behavior of others will create an awareness of those same behaviors within yourself (if you’re willing to look within).

    12. Keep a Journal

    Journaling is one of the best tools for self-reflection. Deep-seated revelations arise when your thoughts and emotions are externalized.

    The process of writing itself also creates objectivity and newfound understanding. Journaling allows you to witness your state of being from a higher perspective. And reading about your past experiences will give you more clarity for the present (hindsight is 20/20).

    13. Travel

    Travel is the ultimate perspective-expander. You experience new cultures, new ideas and new ways of living. You also meet tons of interesting people, often travelers themselves, who grave great wisdom to share.

    Traveling also forces you out of your comfort zone. After any stint of travel, you’ll be able to step back and look at yourself and the world around you with new eyes.

    “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

    14. Read Books

    Reading is one of the best ways to learn and grow as a person. Every book you read is a rung of your ladder of knowledge, helping you climb above the walls of your own ignorance.

    Here’s a tip to spur even more self-discovery and growth: Once in a while, read something that is completely different than normal for you. I stubbornly only read nonfiction for a while, thinking I was being practical and learning a lot (which I was). But once I started reading fiction, I unexpectedly learned so much more, and in ways I never would have expected. My imagination bloomed like a flower in spring, my power of visualization strengthened, my vocabulary greatly expanded and my writing ability reached new heights. Also, because I read fiction before bed, I started falling asleep more easily. Imagination and visualization were blind spots for me, and I probably never would have thought about them if it weren’t for reading fiction.

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    There you have it. Those are some excellent ways to illuminate the caverns of your psyche and bring awareness to your blind spots.

    Don’t just read this and then fall back into the same patterns you know don’t serve your highest interest. Apply! Apply! Apply!

    “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Life gets excruciatingly stale when you’re held down by the shadowy forces you refuse to face. Release the fear of what you’re afraid of discovering, because it’s all you and, in the grand scheme of things, it’s all love.

    Uncover your blind spots, keep learning and keep growing.

    Make the most out of your short time here on Earth.

    One love.

    – Stevie P!
     

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