Posts categorized "Inspirational"

It's a question of questions

The questions we ask ourselves are everything. You will never find the right answers if you are asking the wrong questions.

Pay attention to the questions you have running through your mind. How are you framing your personal dilemmas? Are you asking yourself what you have to do today or what you want to do today? Are you asking yourself how you can hold onto your job or are you asking yourself how you can triple your income and work just a few hours a day? Are you asking how you can make a terrible relationship last forever or are you asking how you can be happy in love?

Behind every question running through your head is a set of assumptions. If you remove the assumptions, you might free yourself up to ask better questions.  When you ask better questions, you might get better answers. When you act on those better answers, your life might get better because you direct your action in ways that might deliver better results.

What are your biggest questions? Are those questions really inevitable? Might there be other, more profound questions that could replace them? Can you ask better questions by removing a few assumptions? This could be your breakthrough. 

 

Question

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

To love an ego

It is easy to love a person, but hard to love an ego. Ego is the enemy of love.

The ego is prideful and makes demands. To love someone with your ego means to expect your partner to serve that ego. It is to care less about who your partner truly is or what she feels and to care more about what she is or isn't doing to meet your expectations. You will demand, threaten, you will manipulate, you will do anything at all to get what you think you need from your partner. Unfortunately, your partner will never fully satisfy you because the ego is always greedy for more. You believe that you are great, that you are worth it, and you deserve exactly what you imagine you deserve from your partner. It is selfish and ugly.

To be in-love with an ego-driven partner is to slowly come to the understanding that it is only your good behavior that is loved (not you). You come to discover that you don't matter; rather, what matters is the role that you play. It doesn't matter to your ego-driven partner what you feel, what you think, or who you are. If you do or express something that threatens or fails to serve your partner's ego, you are swiftly met with disapproval or anger. What matters to your ego-driven partner is only what you do to serve that ego. To dedicate yourself to an ego-driven partner is to feel constantly frustrated, afraid, misunderstood, unloved and lonely.

Still, even if you express these feelings, the ego-driven partner is unwilling to change. The ego doesn't listen. It doesn't learn. The ego justifies everything. It threatens, manipulates, and resorts to hostility and violence. When out of control, the ego is willing to destroy anything to get what it thinks it needs. As a result, to love an ego-driven partner is bad for your well-being. You begin to believe that you are not worthy of love unless you meet your partner's expectations. You feel as though something is wrong with you. You find yourself hiding your true self, lying, or even cheating when the despair becomes too much.

Ego

To love without ego is to love your partner unconditionally and to completely accept who she is. It is to understand that her feelings are not a threat to you. The things she likes, the things she does for herself, the decisions she makes about the relationship, none of it is against you because it isn't about you. It is about her. Don't take it personally.

To love without ego is to fully experience the bliss that true love brings. It is to know and understand a person deeply, to have complete trust because there is no reason to lie. It is to know another person as well as you know yourself (neither of which are possible with ego). It is to feel the lightness of freedom even as you are committed. May you discover the joy and bliss of loving without ego. 

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

False certainty

I have found that most people would rather live in a state of false certainty than accepted reality. The problem with false certainty is that, well, it is false. Your life is an illusion. If you cling to what you want to believe, see only what you want to see, and tell yourself only the stories that you want to hear, then you are cruising through life blindly and certain to fall. Your perceived reality has little in common with actual reality. False certainty may sustain the status quo for a while and may help you cope in the moment, but as a result you make bad decisions, miss opportunities, fail to grow and inevitably experience painful shock and surprise at every turn.

Reality can suck, but the only way you are going to make it suck any less is to embrace it, know it, and change it. If you want any real improvement, truth must be your starting point. Only when you understand your truth can you begin to respond in the ways that you care capable of responding. Here are some strategies to help you start moving in the right direction:

1) Let's start with your relationship realities. Do you embrace honesty and openness in your relationships or do you expect the people in your life to follow your rules and tell you what you want to hear? Encourage the people closest to you to tell you how they really feel about anything and everything. Ask them to be sensitive in their truths, but try to stay strong. Embrace and accept what they are telling you.

Do you really know what your kids are going through? If your normal reaction is outrage, disapproval ,or punishment, then you can be pretty sure that they aren't telling you. Do you know if your spouse is honest and faithful? If you have threatened divorce over non-monogamy and get angry when she expresses her truest, darkest feelings, then your spouse isn't going to tell you what's going on. 

Better to base your relationships on unconditional truth and acceptance and then do your absolute best not to freak out when the truth comes your way. The payoff is the bliss that comes from true closeness and the deeper sense of security that comes from knowing the truth about your relationships. It isn't easy to offer acceptance and unconditional love to the people we love most because sometimes the truth feels threatening. But the truth is the truth and it is better to know it. Besides, anything less than unconditional acceptance is something less than love.

2) Look at your financial realities. How much money do you have? Is your business really profitable? Does your job pay enough to support your lifestyle? How much debt do you actually have? Is it growing or shrinking? 

What are your goals? If you stay on the current path, are you going to do the things that you want to with your life? If not then what, specifically, are you going to do each month to make some progress?

If you are employed, then is your job really as stable and permanent as you like to believe it is? Is it not possible that your CEO is in acquisition negotiations right now and a layoff is coming next month? A job offers false certainty whereas a move to self employment may be scary at first, but ultimately offers a more certain reality that you have some control over.

3) If you are a student, do you know what to expect from your chosen field after graduation? Are you sure that you really want to continue down the current path? If not, make changes. If you are an artist or in any way creative, get honest reactions about your work. Are people loving it? If not, then knowing this is the starting point to getting better.

4) Be honest with yourself. Don't tell yourself that you are any greater or more special than you are. Also, don't believe that you are any less great or special than you are. Accept that which you actually are and start living your truth. Others will adjust.

5) What actually makes you excited? What makes you feel good to be alive and looking forward to a new day? Be honest with yourself and then do that thing. This is what nature wants you to do and there is no guilt or shame in following nature's call. This is your intuition, your calling, your destiny. Stop lying to yourself and accept the truth about what excites you.

Delusion

I hope that this post, in some small way, encourages you to become brave enough to step out of any false certainty in your life so that you may embrace what is, change what you don't like, and become what you are.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

What do other people think?

The vast majority of people share precisely the same value system. It is a simple system of belief that is called what do other people think. People may call themselves Christians or Muslims, they may proclaim to be Liberal or Conservative, married or single, they may select one career or another, or they may dress differently from each other, but they are all exactly the same because their lives are controlled by a shared belief system. It is a belief system that requires everyone to project a carefully-crafted, false image of themselves to the world. It demands that we seek approval. It requires us to fit-in. It insists that we must try to be normal. We must belong to some group of people who accept us.

The problem is that the things we are expected to project are not real or meaningful things. What we project on Facebook, or in public, or in everything most of us do is just an image. None of it is real because none of it reflects the way we actually feel inside, the things we really want to do, and what we really think. The value system of what do other people think leaves us feeling trapped and lonely because so much of what we are, how we feel, even what we do in secret, is considered inexpressible. 

Followers of what do other people think are violently intolerant of anyone who chooses not to live according to this value system. If anyone in this big world of ours decides to live openly in freedom, they face the full wrath of family, friends, teachers, lovers, bosses, colleagues, and probably even the post-lady. Let us remember that these followers of what do other people think have spent a lifetime sacrificing everything for this. They have gone to church when they would rather have been making love. They have sat quietly at the dinner table when they would rather have said how they really feel. They have sacrificed their entire lives carefully crafting an image to friends, family, and to the public. This is very hard work. This is the world's dream of hell and the religion of what do other people think is how we are domesticated into it. From childhood this is what is expected of us because, we are told, everyone does it.

Now let's imagine someone comes along and says, "Well, I know this is how things have been done for 2,000 years, but it doesn't work for me." Do you think that a person listening to this...someone who has sacrificed everything for the religion of what do other people think...is he or she going to be tolerant and accepting of this person? No. If he were to accept someone who rejects the value system of what do other people think, then his entire identity and belief system will shatter. He cannot allow this to happen, and so the automatic response is to shun, to shame, to ridicule, to punish, to gossip, and to do anything and everything in an attempt to make the person once again care about the religion of what do other people think.

I believe in a different value system. Mine is based on love, acceptance, and freedom. I believe that we should all live according to who we actually are, deep inside. We should all feel free to express that which makes us unique. Our uniqueness is the meaning of your lives. To let it shine is to fulfill your destiny on this planet. Total faith in love is the only path toward happiness and everything good. It cannot be sacrificed for any consideration of what do other people think. I find it quite ironic that the value system of practicing love, acceptance, and freedom despite what other people think is perhaps the most violently hated thing in this world. But I understand the reasons for this and I accept with love anyone who decides to shun, shame, or gossip.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Century of fakers

Everybody's trying to make us another century of fakers (or so goes the old song by Belle and Sebastian). We live in a world where everything fake is put on display and everything real is kept hidden. Most of us spend these short lives trying our best not to rock the boat. We shamefully hide what we really think, who we truly are, what we really like, what we actually do, and who we truly love. A few of us, either through some amount of bravery or more likely circumstance, find one day that our truths are exposed to the world. When this happens, the fakers around us are repelled into their comfort zones of self-preservation and we are left completely alone.

Do we have to be fakers to be loved and accepted? Do we have to keep our truest selves, our most real feelings, and our sacred relationships hidden from the world in fear? Must the goodness and purity that exists in secrecy always be destroyed in openness? Are the words and ideas shared in our private worlds real, or is realness only to be measured in action?

It's another century of fakers in a world where beauty, love, truth and freedom only seem to flourish when hidden in deception. When tested by reality, it almost always evaporates. How ironic and unacceptable. How sad and unfulfilling. Yet how true.

After a lifetime of faking, I am now living an honest life. The first step for anyone on this journey is self-love. Without it, there is no path forward because the path is lonely. I will continue to believe in love, starting with self-love. I hope to one day find myself on this journey with someone who is on the same path of openness and truth. Until then, I will remain grateful for all of the natural giving I have received and I will continue to love and give freely.  

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

The poly romantic

Nothing is more romantic than polyamory. Love is nothing if not a struggle against the world and no form of love is more a struggle against the world than polyamorous love is.

Romantic love does not ask "what do my parents think?" or "is this normal?". True love seeks no approval on Facebook. Crazy, insane love cares little about practicality because it creates its own refuge in some higher place. When in love, nothing matters more than a single second spent looking deeply into your lover's eye. To be in love is to find endless bliss in a simple greeting and to feel total salvation in a tired conversation at the end of a long day. 

Please don't understand what I am saying as just some sort of lovely, romantic sentiment. I mean this literally, as truth. Real love would never ask to be proven through sacrifice, commitment or will-power. The highest form of romantic love doesn't mind taking a wrecking ball to any aspect of your life. If the force of love destroys anything, then it destroys that which must be destroyed for the purpose of good. After all, love is the highest form of truth and good. How could love destroy good? Love cannot be the cause of something bad and to believe so is to be confused about what love does and what goodness is. Negative consequences in love happens only when faith in that love is abandoned. 

To commit to polyamory is to commit to love's highest ideal. To choose polyamory is to place your total, complete faith in love. It is to live each moment open to the possibility of new love just as you continue to honor lasting love. To commit to polyamory is to face dramatic challenges, changes and consequences because you are filled with the natural strength to shrug off judgment, opinions, threats, and ultimatums. If you are poly, you are a fucking beautiful romantic and I love you for it. To be the truest romantic (to be poly) is to know (not just believe) that love is the answer. To live poly is to walk love's walk.

Poly love is love. Anything else is something less than love. Anything less is an arrangement based on conditions. Love never asks anyone to be less or to love less. I still believe in love.

LOVE

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

To live differently

If you want to end up like your parents, then you should listen to their advice. If you want to be just like your neighbors, friends, or colleagues at work then you should say the things that they agree with do exactly as they do. If you want to live as they do then your path is clear. Follow the same rules, put off the same uncomfortable decisions, avoid the same risks, go for the sure thing even if it isn't what you want. You may think that you are an exception. You may tell yourself that you can do it your way, that your life will not end up like theirs, but the way you spend your time is the way you become. What you do with your days becomes who you are. The path ahead of you is as predictable as the Monday morning alarm clock.

There is no way to have a radically better life without radically different action. Only a radical takes the risks required to break through to something better. If you want something better for your life, then you should question everything (especially the things that everyone agrees on). If you catch yourself seeking approval, ask yourself whether you want to become like the person you seek approval from. In truth, everything you do is your choice. Nobody has to agree with you. Nobody has to understand. You are the only one who needs to be right about who you are and what you want.

To be a radical isn't to be a fool. A fool acts on impulse. He fails to consider the consequences of his actions. He fails to plan and then he fails to execute. A fool has unrealistic dreams and lacks discipline. But a radical sees the world as a clean slate with unlimited possibilities. He understands exactly how things work (if he doesn't, he studies and observes). Only when he is sure, he executes on a realistic plan or a strategy that can actually work. He is honest with himself about what it will take, what it will feel like to work toward the goal, and what reality will look like when it has been achieved. He questions himself each day and changes what isn't working. He shows no concern for the opinions or judgments of others unless they have accomplished what he hopes to accomplish.

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You cannot live differently unless you are free. You cannot be free unless you are radical. People talk of freedom, but so few know what it is. If you have a job, you are not free. If you depend on daddy or on a husband for money (and there are any strings attached), then you are not free. If you are attending university and learning what you are told, you are not free. If you are in a monogamous relationship because your partner is jealous, you are not free. Most people are only free during those brief moments of shame when they are deceptively hiding something. When they are caught, they are punished. This is not freedom. Even a slave has this luxury.

To be free is to be openly in control of your time, openly doing what you choose, and openly navigating your relationships on your terms. If you can find a way to do this without living in poverty and without being alone and isolated, then you have become a master of your own life. If you are capable of loving others fully just as you maintain both your honesty and your freedom, then you have achieved enlightenment. Despite what anybody tells you, all of this is possible.

It takes radical action to be free. People may not understand your choices, but they will envy the result. So forget about seeking their approval now because one day they will come to you for advice.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Your job isn't real. Money isn't real. It is a game.

Business is a game. A job is a game. More to the point: money is a game. None of it is real. The economy is a big game. This is why it is a mistake to define your identity or self-worth in economic terms. You are not your job or career. This game of acquiring money should be played like the game of poker. At work, you aren’t expected to be honest about your beliefs, your feelings, your dreams, or your opinions. If you are ethical, then you are expected to play the game in a way that enables others, who are also playing a game, to win. In doing so, it is up to you to make sure that you also win. If you aren't winning, play the game differently.

I wish that our world was organized in a way that ties human beings together through truth, dignity, fairness, love and kindness. Perhaps we could go back to living in tribes, we could all know each other, accept each other, and work together as part of a caring, nurturing community. But that isn’t the way the world is currently organized. Today, the economic system is a big game that is maintained by ruling elites to control us as they exploit resources for personal gain. Those who see the economic word as reality are those who lose. The true believers are they fully-exploited. Your challenge is to play the game to your benefit while finding space for your real life to flourish.

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Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Self-love with Don Miguel Ruiz

Sometimes a cup of tea with the right person can change your life. A few weeks ago, I met with an acquaintance who I hadn't seen for some time. The conversation became very personal and something I said must have inspired her to recommend a book called The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Too often, I have ignored recommendations in conversation. Rather, I pretend that it is possible to remember a name or a title at some point of the future (it usually ends up forgotten). Maybe it was the way she spoke of this book that convinced me, but for whatever reason I wrote it down.

My friend told me how he writes about self-love, that we can't actually look to others or rely on others to love us or make us happy. The place to look for love is within ourselves. To be honest, I didn't believe this premise. Self-love is not something I had ever given any thought to. But I also recognized that I had become too needy about love and have been constantly in-need of attention coming from others. Not only has this led to ridiculous, addictive behaviors like checking messages every 10 minutes, it has also resulted in my tolerating what has oftentimes been an unhealthy relationship with my partner.

The next day, I started researching Don Miguel Ruiz and found out that his most well-known work is called The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. The premise of the work is that we all make "agreements" with ourselves (sometimes referred to as narratives or mental models). Many of these agreements come from "the world". These are beliefs and ways of doing things that have come from thousands of years of history and have been passed down by billions of ancestors. The author uses the concept of "the world's agreements" and "hell" interchangeably, and I tend to agree. In other words, if we accept the world's way of doing things and allow ourselves to be "domesticated" to live in accordance with the ways of the world, we are sure to live a personal hell. 

It is up to you whether you want to create a life of happiness or misery, and this depends on the agreements you make with yourself. If you tell yourself that you deserve abuse, you will accept abuse from others. If you define your worth through the opinions of others, you will be disappointed and led astray. 

Indeed, it is the stories we tell ourselves that hold us back from achieving happiness, freedom, success, and love. We can replace those unhealthy agreements with positive ones, and the author takes us through exactly what those positive agreements should be.

The Four Agreements changed my life and helped me through a challenging time. So, just over one week later, I decided to read the book my friend originally recommended, Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship. I have come to believe that this is a must-read for anybody in a relationship or anybody who wants to be in a relationship (in other words, everyone).

He writes “the real mission you have in life is to make yourself happy, and in order to be happy, you have to look at what you believe, the way you judge yourself, the way you victimize yourself”. When we take on guilt and fail to forgive ourselves, there is the potential that others may abuse us. We allow this abuse only because we tell ourselves that we deserve it.

I have done things in the past for which I had not yet forgiven myself. Yet, paradoxically, I have always known that I have done these things not to harm anyone; rather, for the simple reason that I am who I am. I have not always behaved in accordance with the world's rules. I have lived according to my truths, my agreements with myself, my feelings, and my nature. Over the years, I have been convinced to accept the belief that my actions have hurt the person who I love. As a result, I have been unable to forgive myself for this until now and I have allowed myself to be abused because of it.

What I realized now is, as the author writes, "I don't need to hear your cursing all the time. It's not that I am better than you; it's because I love beauty. I love to laugh. I love to have fun; I love to love. It's not that I am selfish, I just don't need a big victim near me. It doesn't mean that I don't love you, but I cannot take responsibility for your dream. If you are in a relationship with me, it will be so hard for your Parasite, because I will not react to your garbage at all." This, as the author points out, is not selfishness. It is self-love. 

This book has changed my life. Before reading Don Miguel Ruiz, I was controlled by fear, driven by guilt, and felt that I deserved garbage in my life for doing nothing other than being who I am. As I have come to forgive myself and accept myself, I am opening myself up to relationships that are built on generosity, freedom, and love.

"If you cannot love your partner the way she is, someone else can love her just as she is. Don't waste your time, and don't waste your partner's time. This is respect."

Forgiveness of the self, forgiveness of the other, and self-love; this is the path toward happiness and love. The love we crave cannot be expected to come from someone else, it must come from within. With self-love and an attitude of acceptance and forgiveness, we can create the most beautiful, healthy, nurturing relationships based on mutual respect and freedom.

Pay attention to recommendations. Read this book. 

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Radical love

"At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by feelings of love."

- Che Guevara

Che

Romantic love makes each breath lighter, each smile more infectious, and each of life's burdens more effortless to carry. True love brings with it an honest faith in the possibility of never-ending happiness. It offers the refreshment of a deep well of bliss that renews us daily like the coolest water on a hottest day. Love provides the excitement of a new life filled with infinite possibilities and freedoms.   

The way we love is the way we live. Most of us have known love, but it seems we don't know how to love. We expect our lovers to prove their love as though it needs any proof at all. We so naively try to possess each other as though it were possible to put our feelings in a box. To possess is to murder love with rules, conditions, compromises, duties, and sacrifices. Remember those feelings which made love worthwhile to begin with? Those feelings are the opposite of what it feels like to be possessed. There is a better way.

To be radical is to fundamentally question even the most widely-held beliefs. To love radically is to figure out how love works for you, how love works in your relationships, and to live according to your own conclusions regardless of what anybody else does.

For me, a life without deep feelings of love is no life at all. So, in my world, there is no reason to limit or control love. I wouldn't ask anyone to apologize for having loved. I will not ask anyone to prove love through sacrifice because the noblest actions flow naturally and effortless from love, itself. I will never try to cage love because, in my experience, it does not tend to fly away if you don't drive it away.

To live a life of love, I think it is necessary to be brave enough and strong enough to hold love above any occasional feelings of insecurity, fear, and jealousy. These feelings can be discussed, dealt with, and put aside. We can let these petty emotions be fleeting so that love, itself, is not!

 

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).