This post comes courtesy of a conversation I had with a friend I had not seen in a long time. After exchanging the usual “Hello how are you?” I informed the gentleman he looked healthy and good. It was an honest assertation. There seemed to be more of a content look about him. It was his response that inspired this post.
“I’m good.” the young man replied. “I’m going through some stuff and when you change spiritually, you change physically.” That quote is what we are going to discuss today. If you look at the picture above it will give you a good analogy as to what spiritual growth is like. When a snake reaches a point of growth that its current skin can no longer contain, that skin is shed. For a while during this process the snake looks as if it is literally falling apart. As it is making its transition bits of skin will cling to its body until they are rubbed off revealing a shining ‘new’ snake. After sometime the snake’s skin becomes dull and the process is repeated. Another interesting fact I discovered while doing research for this post is that this process occurs six or seven times the first year and then can slow down to once a year or less.
This process is not much different than human spiritual development. When we are beginning to grow spiritually, or shed the skin of our old beliefs, we can appear as if we are coming undone. Often, there is a lack of sleep, a look of uncertainty and a general physical dishevelment. Until, at last, you achieve a look of inner peace and balance such as this man had. That is not to say everything is perfect in your life, but that you have come to peace with who you are and how that impacts your life. There are many who may not appreciate the look of the shiny new snake, especially those who have not grown to the same state you are at, or those who consider your growth a threat to themselves or your relationship with them. Sometimes it is necessary to leave them behind much like the skin the snake sheds.
Another interesting parallel was the rate of change. Much like the snakes who shed several times in the beginning of life and then do so at a reduced rate as their life progresses, we humans grow the same spiritually. As young children we absorb knowledge like a sponge. learning and taking in new ideas and beliefs at a rate that is surprising. As we grow older our learning is balanced with responsibilities and our attachment to our beliefs. Our willingness to change them slows. This is not always a bad thing, but that means our spiritual growth can take a lot longer, but it is also a lot more dramatic.
It would be great if all of us as adults could take a few weeks off of work, travel to India and meditate and study with the Dalai Lama, or whatever other spiritual adventure calls us. We could spend a few weeks shedding the skin of our outdated beliefs and emerge with a fresh and healthy new perspective. Instead, most of us have to balance spiritual growth with work, social and family obligations and a general lack of time to pursue them. This can lead us looking like we, and our lives, are totally falling apart as we feel that everything inside is beginning to fall in place.
Remember this snake analogy when you are either witnessing someone going through their spiritual rebirth, and especially when you are going through your own. As you develop new and empowering beliefs they may not fit into your current modalities. This can seem like your life is forever trying to put a round peg in a square hole. This is not only because you have changed, but because there may be things in your life that no longer serve who you are as a person. This is also life’s way of initially testing your commitment to your new beliefs. Hang in there as soon you will too reveal the shiny new more empowered you underneath the skin of the beliefs you have outgrown.
Here is the latest issue of See Beyond magazine. It is a informative and fabulous issue filled with great articles. March is dedicated to Women’s Month, but there is something for every gender inside. My article, The Birth of Belief can be found on page 34. It is a great look at how some of my philosophies of life developed, but more importantly, it is a great look at our legacy and what we can do to make sure we leave behind a legacy worthy of us. I encourage you to take a look and let me know what you feel about it.
After you have finished reading the article, I invite you to scroll to the back of the magazine and read the tremendous review of my book that can be found there. All together See Beyond is a magazine that offers inspiration and many different perspectives. I am honored to be a part of it, and wish to thank Aura, the Publisher, Stefanie, the editor-in-chief as well as Rachel, one of the amazing artists in See Beyond. Working with these creative and talented ladies is something I am grateful for not only during Women’s Month, but each time our paths cross.
Click the link below to be taken to the magazine and appreciate all that it has to offer. I look forward to hearing how this amazing publication has touched your heart!
The man in the picture above is Roger Bannister. For those of you who do not know who he is, allow me to share his story and how it applies to you and me. From the time humans began inhabiting the earth until 1954 it was the accepted medical belief that the human body physically could not move at a speed faster than a 4-minute mile. On May 6th, 1954 Roger Bannister broke that record with a time of 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds.
While that is a cool story it is not what we are going to be looking at today. What is interesting is that fact that since that record was broken, over 20,000 people have run a sub 4-minute mile. This total also includes high school kids. How did that happen? Did the human race suddenly become faster all around the world? The obvious answer to that question is no. So what changed? Every runner prior to that fateful day in 1954 walked up to the starting line with the belief that it was not possible to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. Every runner after that day was blessed with the belief that it indeed was possible.
Do you see the difference that a change in belief can bring? For thousands of years nobody ran a mile faster than 4 minutes. Yet, in the 60 or so years since that was proved possible 20,000 people have done it! All it took was one person to not listen to the ‘facts’ of the day. That changed the world forever.
What beliefs are limiting today’s world? Let me share a personal story with you. I firmly believed that I would never accomplish all that I have done. Can a person who almost did not pass high school English class, who was in fact told by the teacher, “I pray you will never have a career in writing.” Go on to write and publish 2 books, create a blog with over 1000 posts and followers in over 100 countries on 6 continents? Can that same person create a YouTube channel that along with live seminars, can help people improve their lives all across the globe? I would never think so, but I did it.
How did I overcome my limiting beliefs to accomplish all of this? One of the main reasons is that I am blessed with an amazing and beautiful soul to share my life with. My lovely lady Margie not only believes in me and the work that I am doing, but pushes me to improve both professionally and personally. I never would have believed that there was another soul in this world who could balance being both encouragement and accountability. If you told me that on top of those two amazing skills she would be the most beautiful woman I have ever met, and being caring, creative and driven in her own right, I would find that extremely hard to believe. If you told me she would fall in love with me and we would share a life filled with many adventures that we faced hand in hand, I would have never believed you. All of that has come true, leaving me to often wonder how so many of my beliefs could be overcome.
What are some of your limiting beliefs? Is there someone in your life that supports and believes in you? Do you, like Roger Bannister, have the strength to not listen to the critics and maybe even the scientific facts of the day? What are some beliefs that could change the world if proven wrong? History is full of people who denied conventional wisdom to defy the odds and change the world. If someone tells you something cannot be done, remember Roger Bannister, the Wright brothers and countless others who would not give up until they were proven right.
Continuing on our theme of looking at the world in an entirely different way, I present to you the quote in the picture above. To be educated just enough to believe what they have been taught but not enough to question it. I suggest you read that line a few times and really let it soak in. Most of what we have been taught has come from those who were around us when we were growing up. This group could include our family, friends, teachers and others. Let me ask you this question. As well meaning as these folks were in teaching us, could it be that perhaps they had a certain prejudice? Maybe they were just passing down beliefs they had been taught unquestioned? Do you think what may have been correct say 50 years ago, may not be correct anymore? Cigarettes and soda used to be considered ‘health tonics’ in the not so distant past.
Doing things because “That’s the way they have always been done” makes as much sense as riding a horse to work instead of your car.
I suggest questioning a lot of what you believe. That is not to say it is incorrect. Quite to the contrary. Questioning what you believe can lead to a greater understanding and strengthen your faith in it. I turn to the Dalai Lama for an example. One of the leaders of Tibetan Buddhism, he could have easily just followed tradition and did things the way they had been done for centuries. Instead, he has challenged convention and opened up dialogue with other faiths. He also has questioned his own faith. Instead of accepting the power of his form of meditation, he encouraged scientific study of it. He challenged neuroscientist Dr. Richie Davidson to switch his focus of study from anxiety, depression and fear to study qualities like kindness, compassion and equanimity. He even gave permission to have Buddhist monks studied while they meditated. What he discovered only strengthened his faith.
I encourage all of us, myself included, to take a look inside at some of our long-held beliefs and ask why it is we believe them. Perhaps they could use a little tweaking? Perhaps they are totally invalid in light of our own personal experiences. Perhaps, like in the case of the Dalai Lama, by questioning them we will gain an even deeper understanding and appreciation of them.
If you have read the post before this one you have heard my story. If not I encourage you to do so. For the sake of this post the abridged version is that due to the stress that life gives us I went from being a bartender and singer in a rock band who was too cool for self-help to an author and speaker on the subject. I originally laughed at all those ‘crazy people’ meditating and looking to increase their inner peace. In short, I thought the whole idea was a bunch of B.S.. The point that never failed to escape me was that I was doing my laughing as I was broke and sitting in my apartment in a not so nice part of town. I was in a job I did not find fulfilling, but most importantly I wasn’t happy myself.
I don’t recall the exact beginning of my journey into self-improvement, but last post I gave my earliest memory. As my life continued to suck I began to read and try more things. The biggest event happened when the fine folks at the United States Postal Service decided I was expendable after over a decade of devoted employment. I found myself at rock bottom. To be a little more accurate, my life was sitting in a pile of B.S..
It was this situation that forced a change in direction. I began to at least conceive that some of the more mainstream ideas could at least be workable. I wasn’t about to perform a ceremony where I marry myself, but listening to a few Tony Robbins CDs I had ordered off television at 3a.m. seemed doable. It wasn’t as if I wanted anyone to know what I was doing, but as I noticed my stress going down and my joy going up, my mind began to open to the possibilities. What was even more important is that I saw others struggling as I had just because they were to intimidated by terms like self-help which to me sounds like you should be laying on a couch telling someone in a lab coat your problems. It was then I decided to devote my life to showing people that improving yourself is not only cool, but helps your life suck a lot less.
It was then I learned that life really is made up of B.S. Rather than the stuff that comes out of the back end of a bull, I mean B.S. as in belief systems. What you believe will dictate what you try and what you do. If you believe you are a late person, you will never be motivated to arrive on time. If you believe life will always suck for you, it will. I am not merely suggesting you start thinking you will have a great life and suddenly people will send you checks for being your awesome self. If it were that easy I wouldn’t be writing you this today. What I will tell you is that what you believe has not only a great influence on your actions, but more importantly on your sense of well-being. Which after all is really how we determine our quality of life. If you were as wealthy as could be, but you were miserably unhappy, your life would suck.
This may seem a bit much to take if you are new to some of these concepts. In fact, when I first heard of things like the Law of Attraction and other such belief systems that was my thought as well. As quantum physics begins to unravel more of the mysteries of the science of the mind we are beginning to understand how powerful our beliefs are. Why not be on the cutting edge and take control of one of the most powerful forces in your life?
For my left-brained friends who may still be having a hard time grasping this notion, allow me to share a real-life example. Most of you know the story of Roger Bannister. For thousands of years it was accepted as a truth that the human body was not capable of running a mile in less than four minutes. On May 6th, 1954 Roger Bannister did just that. While that is the story most people know, there is an even bigger story. Since he completed this historic feet, countless other have also run sub four-minute miles. What happened? Did the human race suddenly get stronger all over the world? Of course not. What happened was now they could believe that it was possible. If one change in belief can alter the course of track and field across the globe, what can it do for your life?
Let me start by letting you all in on a few secrets. First, I do not, nor have I ever run a 4-minute mile. After eating all of the delicious meals Margie makes, I would be lucky to run a 40-minute mile. Also this post is not about running, it is about the power of belief.
You may have heard how powerful your beliefs are. You may have even heard they have a large influence in your life. You may have even scoffed at these two ideas. I am here to take this one step further and tell you that your beliefs can not only influence your life, but influence the entire world! Sound a little crazy and far-fetched? Let us look at the history of the 4-minute mile and I will let you decide for yourself.
Humans have existed on this planet for a very long time in some form for fashion. Depending on your belief the length varies, but at the very least it has been many thousands of years. In that time, prior to the above date in 1954, no human had ever run a 4-minute mile. In fact, until that date, it was believed (there is that word again) that is was physically impossible for a human to run that fast. We were told our heart would explode, lungs could not handle it and that the physical make-up would not allow it. After much pizza and rum that still holds true for me, but I digress.
Enter Roger Bannister, a British athlete set to compete in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki where he finished fourth in the 1500 meters. This strengthened his resolve to break the 4-minute mile which he did at Oxford on May 6th, 1954, running 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. He proved what many had said was impossible.
That is not the coolest part of the story. As we discussed the amount of people who ran that fast prior to that day in May were zero. Roger Bannister’s record, however, fell after only 46 days! Since then over 1000 people have raced at less than a 4-minute mile. How is this possible? Did human genetics suddenly change? Did the world suddenly get faster? How do we go from zero people doing it for thousands of years, to over a thousand in a little over 50? What changed?
The only thing that changed was the belief that it was possible. This was first done by Roger Bannister visualizing himself doing it so much that it became believable to him. After he accomplished it people everywhere now could believe it was possible for them as well. If this is true about an athletic accomplishment that has stood since the evolution of man, isn’t it true about your own life as well? That business you want to start is not impossible. The weight loss you want to achieve, it is possible. You want to beat that addiction? It is possible! When others, or maybe even the person in the mirror, tell you something is impossible for you to do remember the story of the 4-minute mile.If you see me at the gym, forget all about a 4-minute mile.
Yesterday we discussed ways to improve your inner dialog. If you missed that I highly suggest you go back and review that. The sad truth is often people look to outside sources to determine their worth. When you do that, you set yourself up for disappointment and failure. We must all find a way to believe in ourselves.
Why is this so important? In any worthwhile endeavor, any goal worth chasing there very well be moments you are left on an island. Even our well-meaning friends and family may tell you to give up on your dream. Perhaps they are looking out for what they think is your emotional wellbeing and want to prevent you from taking the hits life delivers. What sets a person apart is how many of those hits he can take and keep moving forward. My blog and history in general is full of great heros who only succeeded because they didn’t give up. People like Walt Disney whose idea for Disney land was turned down by 300 different banks because it would never work. Or Thomas Edison who tried over 10,000 different items to find which worked for an electric light bulb. Not only did these men have great belief in themselves, they brought greatness to the world by doing so. What greatness are you denying the world by not believing in the miracle that is you? Do yourself a favor and belive in yourself, even if you have to put on a white beard and red suit
“My life has been based on trial and error. I finally paid attention during the trial, now I’m learning from my errors”
Life, it always has its ups and downs. No matter how far along we are at creating the life of our dreams, there will always be challenges. Now this may seem depressing news, but it is quite the opposite. Challenges provide us a chance to grow. The are the seeds to great opportunity. You could never have the feeling without overcoming a challenge. The secret to making challenges work for you is what you do with them. When you find yourself in a troubling situation is your first feeling “Why me?” or how life is not fair? I’ll admit there are days I am as guilty as the next person of this. When we are faced with a situation that is not what we desire we can make it work for us. Even if it is completely out of our control, we can still have a victory if we ask ourselves “What can I learn from this?” If you say nothing, just think if you could learn something from it, what would it be? Maybe it is as simple as who will stand by you when the chips are down, or how you will react when faced with a tough time.
I have a friend who was recently sent to prison. She is a young single mother and for some serious life mistakes she faces over a year away from her family. Now she could simply focus on missing her son, or how her life is so far down the wrong path, but she is not. In fact, she is working on transforming her life while behind bars. She is beginning to explore things like the love of attraction and the power of positive thinking. She is working on educating herself in different fields and writing a book to help others who may be headed down the path she went to so that they may not make the same mistakes. Whenever I receive a letter from her it reminds me how much good can come out of a situation that seems so bad.
The moral is this. Sometimes life will suck. The two real secrets are as follows. First, how to reduce the times that happens. Second, how to make the most of it when it does. If you can do this your life will be a success. So this week as we are faced with challenges let us stop and ask ourselves “how can I make this work for me?”. Be a master of your life, not a victim.