The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

It Takes Time

Beware of anyone who tells you that meaningful change can be created in a startlingly short time frame.  You know: heal your credit overnight, lose weight overnight, heal your busted love life with one call.  They are trading on the fact that the part of you that holds you back does NOT want to change. 
the average person makes an average income, has an average love life, and has an average body.  By definition this is pretty close to true.  So if you are getting much better results than average in any of these arenas, by definition you are operating above average.  There are aspects of human performance that are genetic, inborn, unchangable by effort.  True.  But there are so many that ARE manipulable based upon our focus that it behooves us to concentrate our attention there. 
The theoretical model we're playing with here is that if you're getting worse than average results, your "reality map" is distorted.  In essence, you are as lost as if you headed toward Chicago and ended up in Mexico City.  Your ego will try to tell you that it's not your responsibillity (and overweight people will often try to blame their bodies for the shape they are in: their bodies "betrayed them", they "have bad genetics", they can "eat nothing and still gain weight" etc.   this reflects the underlying belief that they are not their bodies.  We'll deal with that another time, but suffice it to say that they are both right and wrong about this.) 
I encourage you to take the position that it IS your responsiblity.  Yes, you can blame society, genetics, etc.  Frankly, many do.  There is a popular term for such people.  They are generally called fat people, poor people, and lonely people.   And there are typical ways such people think.  I call those thought patterns "Negative Software."  In other words, they are belief systems, value hierarchies, and emotional charges which, if you were to download them into the average human being, they would suddenly begin to perform poorly in that arena.  Similarly, there are what might be called "Positive Software"--belief systems, value hierarchies, and emotional charges which, were you to download into the average human being, they would suddenly begin to perform with greater efficiency and elegance. 
If you are more than 30 pounds overweight, if you are consistently struggling with money, if you have a string of dysfunctional relationships--or have been in a dysfunctional relationship for over a year, it is reasonable to assume that you  are running a "Negative Software" package.  If you've been running it long enough (or if the dysfunction is severe enough) it is reasonable to expect that your ego actually thinks that is you, and that there is no other choice than the choices you have made in life.  It distorts the "reality map" so that you don't seem so far from the mainstream:  YOu believe that the average person is 50 pounds overweight, that no one has money unles they steal and cheat, and that all marriages are secretly miserable. 
Listen carefully: IF YOU TRY TO CHANGE YOUR STATUS TOO SWIFTLY, YOUR EGO WILL THINK IT IS DYING, AND DO ALL IN ITS POWER TO SABOTAGE YOUR EFFORTS.  Read that again.  And then again.  Real, no b.s., meaningful change can't happen in less than about a year, unless it is literally a bolt-of-lightning, Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus sort of ah-hah breakthrough.  And those cannot be predicted, although it is possible to set up your life to reap more of them.  think in terms of a year.  Fifty-Two weeks.  364 days.  In a year, you can safely lose 104 pounds, you can clear yourself from debt, you can heal your heart and create a space for love to find you.  But the more toxic the current state, the more important that you follow basic principles that have worked for uncounted millions before you, for thousands of years:
1) Clearly stated objectives.  I would suggest that they represent about 1% improvement per week, or a 50% improvement over the course of a year.  WRITE THEM DOWN.  Make certain that they bring only good into the world.
2) Read them over daily.  And think about them five times a day for 60 seconds (Five Minute Miracle, anyone?)
3) Create a practice designed to open the door between conscious and unconscious: prayer, meditation, dream diary, sacred dance, Tai Chi, Yoga.  The more extreme  your problem, the more important this is, and the more important it is that you find a teacher you can trust, and follow their advice.  Until you find such a teacher, heartbeat meditation combined with a dream diary will keep you going.
4)  "Let Go and Let God."  I don't mean this in a religious sense--unless that is to your taste.  But you have to find the place inside yourself that is separate from Ego Identity.  If you have never had a meditation practise, or embraced prayer, or had an ego-shattering breakthrough experience, it may be difficult to believe or even to understand how vital and practical this is.  I can only swear to you that every single high-performing human being I have ever met or heard of has some routine or capacity to do this.  Every single one.  It is the way through the dark night of the soul, and without it, you are limited to your own perceived capacity.  That ain't enough.
5) It takes time.  Give yourself a year.  Work at it every day.  Journal your results.  find a community of like-minded people to support you.  If you don' thave one locally, there's one right here.  Use it.

I love you guys.

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