Letting Go ... and Starting Anew
This unstructured "course" was an eight-week long series of recorded audio and video talks, guided practices and articles I've composed over the past 20 years that I've edited and updated during the COVID-19 pandemic, posted on LinkedIn between December 8th, 2020 and January 26, 2021 to offer support for ending what has been a challenging year for most of us in a conscious manner, and starting a new one by purposefully creating a sustainable habit of integrity to assist you in living and leading by an Ethically Intelligent example of honor, dignity and humanity, in every situation and interaction,
regardless of who you're with or where you are.
The links and a short Intro to each one are posted below the Description section.
Endings and Beginnings are equally important in all areas of our lives, and keeping this awareness front of mind is especially important when we are wishing to eliminate our old, unproductive, and even harmful (to self and others) behavioral habits, and the associated thoughts, choices and actions that keep us stuck in a worn-out, disempowering status quo. This is true regardless of whether we wish to want to live a healthier lifestyle, save more than we spend each month ... or become a person of transparent integrity and trustworthiness - no matter who we are or where we are in any given situation or interaction, in any given moment - and there are no unimportant situations, interactions or moments - if that is indeed your aspiration.
It's also essential to hold that balance when we are ending a relationship, a job, a project, or a business, and to be able to move forward and begin a new relationship, a job, a project, or a business in a conscious and evolved manner.
However, sustainable positive behavioral change cannot be attained by sheer will - and everyone knows that New Year's resolutions don't work. Our best intentions are often simply not good enough, and many of our old habits and patterns have been ingrained for years. Due to a fear of change and loss, many cling to what is known, even when they acknowledge they are engaging in self-sabotaging lifestyle activities, or staying in a draining or abusive relationship or friendship, or going to a job they've grown to hate yet won't leave even though they are miserable. There's also a fear of failure, accompanied by getting snared by Mind Traps - cognitive distortions that generate and perpetuate self-created stress, including "What Ifs" "Mind Reading" "Exaggerating Negative Details and Discounting the Positive" and "Toxic Perfectionism." The inner voice of such stress-inducing thoughts is often called our Inner Critic or our Inner Opponent – yet we all have the ability to say "no thanks" to that voice of our old habits when it tries to sabotage our health, our relationships, or finances, or our careers; we just need to a) learn how to do it, and b) continue doing it.
The formula I've taught for years to help students to establish and secure new behavioral habits is Consistent Practice + Repetition Over Time. Expecting that attending one workshop or reading one self-help book will create lasting "instant enlightenment" is the ego's folly. Being told you should be able to "manifest" whatever you want because you "deserve" it creates an entitled, instant gratification attitude that always wants and expects a "quick fix" - but anything of value must be earned to be owned.
Becoming consciously aware of the types of thoughts we have, and the subsequent effects of our unconscious thinking processes also helps us to upgrade what I call our "Internal Operating System" and create new behavioral patterns and habits of response before our old, bug-ridden status quo programs can snare us and have a negative ripple-effect impact upon ourselves, and the people in both our personal and professional lives. Contributing the required amount of time and energy into upgrading your old programs, while incorporating tools and techniques that have been demonstrated to work effectively by renowned experts in the fields of neuroscience and behavioral economics are major components in successful and sustainable habit transformation.
Let's be honest.
Growth and change can be messy and scary at times, and lots of us dread the honest self-reflection also required to upgrade our bug-ridden and inefficient personal Internal Operating System. We also live in a instant-gratification society, and most would rather take a pill than bravely, kindly and patiently face and triumph over the limiting beliefs, biases and behaviors that keep us from becoming the best version of ourselves we can be. Yet it's not a finite process - and that's a good thing. Imagine how dull life would be if you had nothing more to learn about what's made you you - and knowing you have the human superpower to choose how to respond to whatever comes your way fosters continual innerevolution no matter where your life's journey takes you. Approaching personal growth and change work with curiosity, interest and a healthy sense of humor is what will make you an "Indiana Jones" of your own inner archeological dig. Learn how to avoid the metaphorical snakes, toss out the old junk, and polish the hidden gems within yourself.
The Integrity Habit™ will be an on-going project that begins with this complimentary "course"- a Self-Reflective and Honest Self-Assessment of what has brought you to this moment - and consider who you want to be, and how you want to consciously live your life and create your legacy going forward. The Ending of one calendar year and the Beginning of a new one is a natural time to ride the waves of change and renewal each year brings - but again, you have to give an investment of your time and energy to make any self-help book, workshop, course or training work for you. Not giving anything 100% of your energy - and instead just putting in a mediocre effort - will give you exactly what you put into it: partial, mediocre, results - and all the responsibility for why it "didn't work" (aka "lame excuses").
Letting Go: Out With the Old to Make Room for the New
"So when we finally take complete ownership for our impact, we must also muster the humility, courage and ethical fortitude to acknowledge we have to let go of these self-sabotaging behaviors in order to embrace a transparent and authentic life of integrity in both our personal and professional lives. We need to be radically self-honest about whatwe need to eliminate so we can create the room for new awareness and knowledge to take hold and expressed through our accompanying thoughts, choices and actions. There's no skipping steps in the process. This isn't necessarily "fun" from the ego's standpoint, yet as the late Joseph Campbell taught about taking on the Hero's Journey toward becoming the best version of ourselves we can be, we must also accept that doing the work isn't about respecting our ego's comfort zones – and that's a good and necessary thing."
Includes "The Empty Rice Bowl" practice and the Self-Awareness Exercise:Taking Stock/Personal Inventory
Letting Go of Emotional Dead Weight
"When we work deliberately to become the best version of ourselves we can be, we courageously begin to recognize that along our way in our journey of life, we've picked up some unproductive mental and emotional habits and behavioral patterns. This often occurs as a result of limiting beliefs that became woven into the fabric of our identity: limits as to who we have decided we are, who we can be, and what we can accomplish. Unfortunately, those beliefs are often untrue, yet they have the power to damage our self-worth and along with it, our hopes and aspirations – and even cause us to sabotage relationships, careers and other opportunities that come our way."
Letting Go of Limited Beliefs
"When we work deliberately with honest self-reflection to learn about and acknowledge all that has shaped us to become who we are in this moment in time, we courageously begin to recognize that along the way in our journey of life, just like everyone else we can admit we've picked up some unproductive stress coping habits and behavioral patterns. This often occurs as a result of limiting beliefs that became woven into the fabric of our identity: limits as to who we have decided we are, who we can be, and what we can accomplish. Unfortunately, those beliefs may be not positive or factual, yet they have the power to damage our self-worth and along with it, our hopes and aspirations – and even cause us to sabotage relationships, careers and other opportunities that come our way."
Letting Go of Toxic Perfectionism
"Striving to be the "best that you can be" is an honorable quality for anyone who wants to experience work + life success. It's important to bring an attitude of excellence to perform at your highest level, and those who set high standards are typically high achievers who don't just do to the minimum to just "get by" and live a life stuck in mediocrity.
"However, when one's level of self-expectations becomes obsessive, their behavior can become irrational, self-defeating and make them more vulnerable to compromising their integrity to attain an intended goal. Chasing after perfectionism is counterproductive and highly stressful. Clinical studies have shown there is a correlation between what I call "toxic" perfectionism and depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other mental health problems."
Attaining Greater Peace of Mind: Working Strategically With "Mind Traps"
"This is a video 'class' I recorded a while back titled 'Attaining Greater Peace of Mind: Working Strategically With 'Mind Traps'. It is just under an hour long, yet since many of us are on a holiday break right now, this investment of your time and undistracted attention is a gift you can give to yourself that in turn can benefit others in a ripple effect - even touching the lives of people we'll never meet. Viewing doing our sometimes challenging our inner work as service toward others simply through the impact of the energy we put forth can create a positively contagious ripple effect as we lead by mindful and ethical example.
"'Mind Traps' are cognitive distortions that generate and perpetuate Self-Created Stress. The inner voice of such stress-inducing thoughts is often called our Inner Critic or our Inner Opponent – yet we all have the ability to say 'no thanks' to that voice when it tries to sabotage our health, our relationships, or finances, or our careers."
Includes the link to the one hour "class" on eliminating Mind Traps
Letting Go of "MeMeMe"
"As we close out a year where the entire global populace has been mercilessly affected by a devastating virus that couldn't care less about any human-created boundaries, nor any concern about human demographics, race, religion, beliefs, values or gender, it's important to reflect upon that this year and the lessons its taught us. Perhaps the most important one of all when we consider the fact we all share the same planet we call Home, is whether we begin to behave with conscious understanding that we are all interconnected, whether we like it or not. But if we continue to live in divided silos with the mental contagion of groupthink, focus on 'me me me' and not embrace the 'we,"'forces beyond our control will take advantage of what I call the Toxic Cocktail of Ignorance + Arrogance.
"If there's one characteristic that is prescriptive for these troubled times, its empathy. While we can't always feel exactly what another fellow human being is experiencing, we can all remember that we all have more in common than what makes us different. This knowledge needs to be included at the root of all diversity, equity, and inclusion educational efforts."
Embracing Positive Change: Be A New You in the New Year
"The ritual of self-reflection coinciding with the end of a calendar year is a process undertaken by millions globally. The choice to proactively utilize the passage of one year into the next is a powerful window of opportunity wherein individual desires for positive change are given a boost of collective human energy focused in a similar manner.
"But regardless, change isn't easy for most people. In fact, it's often actively avoided at all costs, even if the choices made can vastly improve the quality of life of the person vowing to make them, as well as that of those around them. It's likely you've heard someone vehemently promise they will change, only to see it was mere words with no actions taken to back those words up. Promises to change that go nowhere fast could have been absolutely intended to happen by the person making them, or they could have just been an empty exercise with failure automatically built in, even while the words were being uttered. Maybe you've actually done both things yourself; after all, you're an imperfect human being, just like the rest of us."
Self-Renewal ... and Beginner's Mind
"In Egyptian mythology, the desert bird called the Phoenix is the symbol of self-renewal. On completing its life cycle, it was consumed in flames, and then renewed itself, rising upward from the ashes. There are times in our lives when self-renewal is the right path for us to take as well. Perhaps the way we've been living our lives isn’t quite working for us anymore. It's as though we have completed a cycle, or gone as far as we can down a particular path in life. To renew ourselves, we must first honestly look within, and be courageous enough to listen to the truth about what we know in our hearts - but sometimes would rather not acknowledge … and be willing to see the choices we have made that have lead us to suffering rather than fulfillment.
"Mindful awareness is a life skill that can help us non-judgmentally observe how sometimes blindly self-absorbed we can become in our lives, and can grant us with a new level of dynamic awareness of the world outside of ourselves. This awareness is like the flames the Phoenix rose up from that can burn away the old unproductive behavioral habits and mental attitudes we have developed over the course of our lives - and replace them with much wiser, healthier and more productive ones.
Playing Big and Playing Small
This post is a 20 minute Video Talk and Guided Practice I originally recorded in 2016.
"Playing Big is about living a life of mindful, eyes wide open, accountable choice, always aware that none of us is certain how much time we have on this planet, and that every moment, every thought, every communication, every action matters in terms of our own personal evolution in the time we're given in this life. There is full acceptance that there is no certainty we will have another incarnation, another chance to 'get it right.' Playing Big in Life as a mindful human being is one of present moment conscious accountability and choice - where mistakes are readily owned up to and corrections made simply as a code of honorable behavior, as there is no room for egoic defense when fully embracing the path of integrity and honor toward ourselves, our fellow human beings, and the planet we all share."
"As we grow in conscious awareness, we see that there is really no doing it half-way … and that gives us the ability to enthusiastically embrace our inner work with a spirit of adventure and a sense of realization that doing so is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our fellow human beings.
"I invite you to reflect upon the thoughts, choices, actions and behaviors that impact you and others, both beneficially – and not so much. My only request is that you be radically self-honest and equally caring toward yourself."
I highly recommend that you circle back to the first video in this series, "Letting Go: Out With the Old and In With the New," where I prompt you to do the "Taking Stock/Self-Inventory" reflective practice, and bring your responses to mind as you go through this video.