Blog Mind Hacks

The mere possibility

I stumbled upon this quote from The Alchemist , one of my favourite books from Paulo Coelho:

“The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul of the ordinary person with guilt. We look around at all those who have failed to get what they want and feel that we do not deserve to get what we want either. We forget about all the obstacles we overcome, all the suffering we endured, all the thing we had to give up in order to get this far. I have known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reached their goal when it was only a step away.”

While I haven’t stopped myself from doing something because I felt I didn’t deserve it, I have stopped myself from doing stuff that meant a lot to me. I was afraid if I tried and people said I sucked at it, then my sense of self and self worth would be shattered.  I also didn’t know who I’d be if I didn’t have this thing, so by keeping it to myself, nobody could take it away from me by telling me I was no good at it. I know that sounds a bit cryptic, but the details aren’t important. What’s important is I had to take the risk of failure in order to get what I wanted.

The tool that helped me get through this was Robert Dilt’s Logical Levels*. I was holding on to the belief that what I do is who I am. In other words, my identity was bound up in what I did for a living. That caused me no end of angst! But the Logical Levels helped me get through it.

The Logical Levels break down like this:

Mission & Vision 
Where you are going with your life? With which people?  Which activities and placesare central to this vision for your life/future – and, perhaps, the contribution you intend to make to the world.

The self esteem level. Your sense of self, what you identify with, etc. This can include identifying with your job, marriage, religion, etc. it can also include how you interpret events in terms of your own self-worth.

Beliefs & Values
Whether you believe something is possible or impossible, whether you believe it is necessary or unnecessary, whether or not you feel motivated about it. How your personal Values support or hinder you.

Capability & Skills 
These are your ‘internal behaviours’. The level of innate capabilities and learned skills which you have for dealing with life situations – and how effectively you use these.

Your actions – externally observable behaviours, posture, movements, etc. including what an observer would see or hear or feel when you are engaged in a particular activity.

Your surroundings: the people and places etc that you are interacting with, and responding to, when you are engaged in a particular activity.

If you find yourself mentally stuck, this is a great model to use to get yourself unstuck. It works by helping you figure out which of the subsystems of your brain structure are holding you back. Hear Robert Dilts explain it.

*The notion of logical levels refers to the fact that some processes and phenomena are created by the relationships between other processes and phenomena. Any system of activity is a subsystem embedded inside of another system, which is embedded inside of another system, and so on. This kind of relationship between systems produces different levels of processes, relative to the system in which one is operating. Our brain structure, language, and social systems form natural hierarchies or levels of processes. Link

Oh and here’s a clever video edit of several of Simon Sinek’s presentation into one 14 minute long video on leadership and being a leader. I’m planning on sharing in a team session i’m leading tomorrow. I love the question: “why should anybody follow you?”

Mind Hacks

Between two thoughts

I often ponder the question “who am I between two thoughts?” We have between 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot of noise! So when you have that fraction of a second when there is no noise, who are you? In other words, who is the “I” thinking all of those thousands of thoughts?


Altered states

It has only taken me 38 years, but I finally made it into a flotation tank. Why 38? Well 38 years ago (damn!I know..) I saw the movie Altered States starring William Hurt, Blair Brown and Bob Balaban. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a Harvard scientist who conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber. The movie was very trippy and for a 12 year old boy with an over active imagination it was fascinating.

Eddie Jessup : “I was *in* that ultimate moment of terror that is the beginning of life. It is nothing. Simple, hideous nothing. The final truth of all things is that there is no final Truth. Truth is what’s transitory. It’s human life that is real. I don’t want to frighten you, Emily, but what I’m trying to tell you is that moment of terror is a real and living horror, living and growing within me now, and the only thing that keeps it from devouring me is you.”

This is what I wanted to achieve in the tank:

I tried to achieve the same results in the bathtub when i was 12, but no dice! And ever since then I’ve wanted to get in a floatation tank and alter my state to the same standard as Eddie Jessup.

So it was with much excited that I headed up to Nottingham to visit Calm Waters and have a go in their flotation tank (it was more like a space pod though):

The experience was much as they describe on their website:

Floating weightlessly your body is perfectly supported by a cushion of silky, skin-temperature Epsom Salt solution. Freed from all sensation of gravity, temperature, touch, sight and sound you conserve and redirect vast amounts of natural physical and mental energy, and with little to do, the brain begins to slow down and relax….Every single muscle in the body is allowed to totally relax, with ear plugs in and, if you wish, the tank’s interior lights off, the quietness and the darkness allow the mind to drift into the deepest state of relaxation possible.

And while it was deeply relaxing, I didn’t go as deep as Eddie Jessup, so slightly disappointed. But, as I was writing this up, I realised I missed out a key ingredient – hallucinogenics. Will have to try that next time.

Anyway, from my Facebook post, it appears a number of people have been meaning to try floatation.  Maybe not for the same reasons as me, but for the relaxation, and for that I can highly recommend the experience.


Featured reflection

Reconnecting the dots!

That’s thing about life, it doesn’t move in a linear fashion (ok well time does, maybe) but our life’s plan sure as heck doesn’t. It’s full of peaks and troughs and sometimes the peaks are really high and the troughs are really low. But I believe it all balances out in the end.

Pic from: A Compass for Life

I woke up this morning thinking it’s time for me to reconnect the dots because my life, at the moment, is all over the place. My mind is anyway. Maybe I need to practice some courageous stillness as Danielle Laporte wrote about in her blog recently:

Our society is addicted to productivity.
We think productivity increases our value as a human.
And we want to be valued and loved.
So…we become addicted to productivity.

Which means…

being still is an act of courage.

On one level, I know this, on another level, I can’t help but keep busy doing stuff because there is soooo much to do and soooo little time to do it (i.e. I have a limited shelf life on this planet and i’m trying to get as much done as I can before I go).

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” these words of Annie Dillard are worth reflecting on.

And Kierkegaard had this to say about being busy: 

“Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy — to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work.”

Today I will pause, and work on getting my dots reconnected.

Here are a few more links on busy:

Being perpetually busy is a kind of laziness, says ‘4-Hour Workweek’ author Tim Ferriss

150 years ago, a world-famous philosopher called busyness the sign of an unhappy person


Being Careful About Your Time

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