It is our inner world that affects our outer world.
Recently, I’ve been revisiting some of Richard’s tapes as well as one of his early mentors in his Ph.D. program, Dr. George Pransky, as they discuss the principles of “Psychology of Mind.” They call it P.O.M. It changes peoples lives because it teaches how to access our mental health with a deeper understanding. These principles certainly altered our course personally and professionally, and it was the starting point for all of our work in the Don’t Sweat series as well as Richard’s early books on happiness.
One big question in reinventing life this week is:
Do I create my own reality?
It feels like such a cliché, new age question. But, yes, in fact, I would like to say that I create my own reality; saying so, makes me feel like I have more control over my destiny and the outcome. (However, there are also times I also feel like the random events of life are happening to me.) Saying so, that I create and manifest my own reality, fuels the fire of my dreams and my ability to step out of my comfort zone and out of the status quo of life—where my dreams may become stagnant and my passion non-existent. Yes, I can create and reinvent life, and so can you, but first I must understand what my agreement with reality is and accept full responsibility for all of the events and happenings of life ( the good, the bad, the pretty and the ugly, the light and shadow.) Everything that happens is also somehow created as a reflection of me—and, in a philosophy of ONENESS, if we are a part of all things light and shadow, then we cannot be separate from those happenings and events and dramas that seemingly happen—even, if they are negative, scary and undesirable circumstances. May be hard to swallow, but we reap the seeds that we sow, and our thoughts seed our actions. I believe in the laws of Karma.
The poet in me says: Life is collaborative. The world tapestry of humanity is made of people living their lives—day to day. (Some, with much harder circumstances than others.) It isn’t woven by one thread but by the threads of many colors coming together as ONE. Each person has a life story contributing to the whole landscape of what it means to inhabit the earth in the collective—and, sometimes that means cooperation and other times, collision. My reality as an individual may collide with your separate reality in a number of different ways causing pain and suffering when we don’t see eye to eye. One might ask: What color are the glasses that you see the world through? (I prefer rose colored glasses!)
Separate realities colliding can happen in intimate conflict with a spouse, partner, or co-worker or friend, and the same is true for world conflict exampled by the separate realities of religions that collide and create wars. Wow, how can it be that we live in a world where ISIS exists alongside of us? How can people be so crazy that they would think that their beliefs and thoughts are so real that they kill other people to defend them in the name of God? Insanity exists within a reality that is contaminated by obsession and a lack of common sense.
I, like you am most concerned with how I deal with my reality and how I see things through my own filter thus affecting my life. Specific details and dramas aside, I always return to one question when I know something within me needs to shift. (Like most people, I prefer the good stuff and do my best to create that.)
The question that always wakes me up is: What is my agreement with reality, in this moment, and how does this affect the quality of my thinking?
The quality of my thinking has everything to do with the quality of my experience of life. I highlight the word “experience” because it’s important to understand that we live at the effect of our thinking. Even when I know this to be true – my moods, feelings, all of my ups and downs – are always tied to the content of my thoughts and the emotional response that comes after, I still get off track, sometimes. The difference is that when you know this versus not knowing, it’s a little bit like being the one to hold the candle when the power goes out. (Without the candle, it can be pretty dark.) It’s one instance where knowledge, and moreover, a deep understanding is key to being graceful in low times and not taking your thoughts too seriously.
A friend recently complained of having an anxiety attack. I asked her, “What were you thinking?” She replied, “I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular.”
There is tremendous innocence in the answer, “I wasn’t thinking.” Truth is, we are always thinking and our thoughts can become as invisible to us as our breathing. It is our awareness of thought that brings it to consciousness. It is a deep understanding that reality and consciousness are formed via thought that is a game changer. When we don’t realize those thoughts that precede our emotions, we can create the perfect storm for a “thought attack.” It shows up as inner terror then spins outwardly into anxiety and stress that, shortly thereafter, appears to “just happen” to us.
There are two basic agreements we can have with reality and these come from a belief system or philosophy we have adopted from past conditioning, our values and beliefs. (And, we all have one of those!)
I’ll keep it simple to two agreements: We are either the unconscious Victim or the conscious thinker (the witness) as the Victor.
The unconscious Victim of circumstances:
- Has an agreement with reality that is based on the circumstances of life. Are they good or bad at any given moment? Is most concerned and preoccupied with changing and improving circumstances.
- Life is happening to me. This agreement with reality makes one a victim of his or her circumstances when there is no recognition of thought. Thinking is invisible and unconscious.
- Life presents a series of dramas and events that either create feelings of happiness or unhappiness and those emotions and feelings are contingent on life’s circumstances.
- There is a never ending sea of insatiable desire. This person never feels satisfied or content with life as it is and will often feel burned out and pessimistic if not cynical.
- People with this agreement are highly preferential and control-oriented and are often stressed out when they feel a lack of control. They sweat everything.
- They react to life as if life is patting them on the back or punishing them.
- They may separate and isolate from anything or anyone that threatens their feelings of security.
The conscious witness as the Victor:
- Realizes that circumstances happen but knows that in every moment I am “the thinker.”
- Is able to witness the quality of his/her thoughts about specific events and circumstances and see the difference between memory and future tripping versus the present moment.
- Is aware of what he/she sees and feels about what’s happened is her agreement with reality and comes from a philosophy that allows her to assume full responsibility for that agreement—good, bad, pretty or ugly.
- He or she is the hero or shero of her story.
- Does not lack discernment and may even struggle some with self doubt and criticism, but realizes that if the quality of her thinking improves then the circumstances are manageable and suddenly don’t look so bad.
- Opens wholeheartedly to love and is not afraid to be vulnerable, connected, open, and sharing.
- There is an acceptance of life as it is and knows he/she is responsible for her feelings of happiness or unhappiness.
- Responds to adversity with self-awareness rather than reacting to life’s circumstances as if being attacked.
- Stays present to what is without labeling it good or bad with limiting beliefs.
- Overcomes his/her early ego conditioning and inner critic by recognizing that he/she is the creator of his/her own thinking.
- Feelings become a barometer for him/her to measure the quality of his/her experience and how he/she can return to mental health and vitality with grace and ease via thought as the vehicle.
Personally, I can tell you that I have moments where I slip into either Victim (when I forget) or Victor mode. Mostly, my agreement with reality is that I am a Victor, a witness, but there are times, in rare form, I can slip into a Victim mentality where circumstances appear real to me. When I’m low and remember to ask what my agreement is in this moment, it brings my awareness to the quality of my thoughts. Then a natural shift occurs as I pop into a more buoyant state of mind that feels lighter and enhances my experience. I can instantly feel more peace and content as the quality of my thinking rises with this simple awareness to a naturally healthier state of mind. If this seems simplistic, it is! It’s really not that complicated to live inspired and more joyfully even amidst undesirable circumstances as long as you can slow down from the inside to notice when your thinking is affecting your experience.
It’s really about ownership. You are the author of your experience, and so am I. Sure, things happen, but if I replay them over and over in my mind then I’m missing the moment that is right here, right now in acceptance of what is—making the best of what is.
I hope this is food for thought for you to ask yourself, “What is my agreement with reality?” It is an important question because yes, you are creating it every moment of every day even if you don’t think you are.