< Lessons Learned Introduction Chapter 2 >
Life continually amazes me in the way things seem to flow in a circle. As you walk your path, you have a choice as to how you will act or react. Life really is all about choices. The journey for me in writing Sacred Scars made me very aware that every choice I made, every action I took was a part of what determined who I am today. What I also discovered was the unique combination of a Warrior and a Sage. I discovered strengths that carried me through some of the most challenging times in my life. And for years, that attitude of being a fighter served me. It was only through looking back and discovering the lessons learned that the Sage was able to take his rightful place as part of my identity. I originally wrote this chapter as the first chapter of part two of the book, but have also adapted it for an article on the power of the unconscious mind, so some of this material you may have read elsewhere on the site.
What I have found along my own journey and what I see happening with others, is that many of us spend a large amount of time, choosing to relive the past. We end up spending so much time trying to “fix” ourselves, or reacting based on past stimulus. It’s not intentional; it’s habitual. We have been taught for so long to “look for the root of the problem”. And we’ve also been told that if we don’t do that, we are avoiding the issues. Yet what I have learned through my experience is that what I focus on, I tend to get. If I am focusing on the reasons that I have not achieved something, I continue to draw that to me. I am not saying that we should not learn from our experience. What I AM saying is we should trust this amazing thing that God has created that we call our mind. We need to have faith that God gave us the ability to sort through and utilize the lessons learned, and mistakes made, without analyzing each one.
I was in a coaching session with a client who has a habit of analyzing everything. He kept asking questions in an effort to find “the root cause” for this, that and the other. And I realized in my conversation with him, that this is the problem for many of us. We believe that we are so intelligent, that we are so powerful, that if we just can understand what the problem is, we can fix it. Here are what I perceive to be two big distinctions. 1) We don’t need “fixed” and 2) I believe that we are that powerful, we just use that power in a way that doesn’t “empower” us.
Let’s look at it this way. Your mind, most people would agree, is comprised of the conscious mind, the subconscious or unconscious mind and the supra-conscious mind. Your conscious mind is where actual thought processes take place, where you knowingly observe, analyze and sort information.
Your unconscious or subconscious mind, is the underlying level that stores all memories from all senses, retrieves resources that the conscious mind needs to make and move through the decision, and action taking processes, and acts as the “operating system” that your super computer runs on.
The supra-conscious mind, is that part of you which allows your life functions to take place, without thought or concern and also connects you to the Universal consciousness. That part of your mind that monitors all bodily functions, from making your heart beat, to regenerating cell tissue, to understanding and interpreting the coding in your DNA. It is that part of you that most directly connects you to the life force that flows through all things.
What seems to have happened, in my opinion, is that many of us have gotten a slight understanding of how our unconscious works, and we start looking at that knowledge as power. We believe that since we understand the unconscious, we should be able to direct it. But here is the irony, as soon as you have thought about the unconscious, it is now conscious.
I believe that many people, myself included, have seemed to get caught in the trap of wanting to look at where the problem stems from, and figure out “how can I fix it?” It is my belief, a belief that all great Masters have taught us, that we do not need “fixed”. I am not saying that we can’t improve the way we live our life, this is a constant natural evolution. The point I am making is that we are not “broken”.
When you accept the true power of your unconscious mind, you then accept that it has power beyond your comprehension. I want you to take a moment and just try to imagine the amount of information your unconscious mind needs to process just to be able to speak, to read, to make a decision on where and how to cross the street.
Think about this, if every time you wanted to speak, you had to consciously go back, through your memories, and remember, review and decide based on that conscious information what you were going to say… you would never speak a word. Before the first word left your mouth, you would have to consciously think about what specific word would best describe the thought, image or feeling you were trying to express. Then you would have to think about how you formed that word, and what specifically that word meant, because what context you are using it in may change its meaning. Next you would sort through every time you pronounced and mispronounced that first word which would lead to numerous possibilities on how to use specific muscles to get the correct enunciation for it in this instance. You need to determine what will be the pronunciation, the inflection, the volume. But before you can make that decision, you have to look at the rest of the sentence you are trying to form, because the meaning, pronunciation, etc. of the second word can dramatically affect the meaning, pronunciation, delivery of the first and so on, and so on. Should I go on, or are you starting to get the picture?
Now I’m sure that many of you are going, “Give me a break, speaking is easy, you’re really making too much of this Will”. This is exactly my point. Your unconscious mind runs through all the possibilities and probabilities that we have discussed, and THOUSANDS MORE variables before you ever utter that one word. And your unconscious mind does it in a nanosecond. Do you really grasp the power of your subconscious, or unconscious mind? So for us to think that we can control completely the unconscious mind is ridiculous. And I think what happens for many people is that we get so caught up in the excitement of this new awareness, that we forget the true power of that knowledge. The power that comes by understanding the role that our unconscious plays in our life and decisions, and making the decision to help it access the best resources possible.
One of the great things about studying and working with Tony Robbins was getting an understanding of how much these underlying patterns we have created affect our daily interactions. Through becoming aware of how these unconscious processes affect our actions and reactions to stimulus allows us to understand that we have the ability to decide to react differently. His books, Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within detail some of these processes in a very understandable way and I encourage anyone embarking on this journey to check them out.
I also love the teachings of Richard Bandler. He has put together a “technology” that gives structure, and a deeper understanding to the principles that all great teachers have taught for centuries. That the moment you decide to move in a specific direction, your unconscious pulls together all the references and resources to support you in moving in that direction. Whether it’s a decision on crossing the street, or changing the direction of your life.
So many people have been caught in the “therapy” mindset. The idea that we must “go back” and “find the root of the problem”. Yet, all great teachers, from Christ, to Buddha, to Gandhi, to Socrates; all these teachers have brought us the same universal message. The message that we have the power to be whoever we choose to be. Each of us has the God force flowing through us, and can call upon it at any time.
I believe that the unconscious and the supra-conscious are major parts of this God force. And that we need to stop looking to the past, because in reality, all the past is, is a memory. And it is a memory that has only one perception. Is there a possibility that your perception of that memory may not be the most accurate perception? Or at least could it be possible that you are missing some valuable insights that could have been seen from another perception?
We need to stop looking at the past, and recognize where we are in the moment. We need to stop looking for what is broken and become self-aware. I don’t mean self aware in the sense of “The reason I am reacting to this situation is because when I was 3 years old…”. I mean recognizing what is happening in this very moment, and in this moment, decide what is the highest version of who we choose to be. Who is it you wish to be at this moment? How can you act at that moment that will best represent and serve your purpose? We need to respond to the situation rather than react. When we make that conscious decision, then our unconscious will pull to us all the necessary resources and references to allow us to make that vision of ourselves a reality.
This is why I believe so strongly in creating an identity for yourself of who you choose to be. Some people see it as goal setting, some as visualizing; I like to call it creating your own personal identity.
I want you to take a moment now and think about these questions. They are questions that when you really look for the answers, will transform your life as they have mine. If you had the option to recreate yourself in the best possible version of who you could be, what would your identity be? What would comprise your character? What would be your strongest values? What would be your strongest beliefs about yourself? What would be your strongest beliefs about other people? What would be your strongest beliefs about life? What would be your strongest beliefs about God?
Lay out the design for who exactly you would choose to be. Be very specific. The more specific you are about who you choose to be, the easier it will be to know how to respond in each new situation. Then with this identity, and a new understanding of “self awareness”, make a decision on what your next step will be.
To me, self-awareness, is noticing what is happening in the moment, and applying my identity to that moment. But you have to be clear on your identity first. When I am confronted with a situation, I now find myself asking, “What would love do in this situation?” What is the most productive thing I can be doing at this moment to live up to the identity I have created for myself?” This is a level of awareness that many people have not yet reached. It is not because they can’t, but because they are still looking at how to “fix” the problem. That is why I say again, there is nothing to fix.
It is my belief that we have not come to this life to constantly relive and repair the past. I believe that our purpose is more one of recreating ourselves in each moment. This is where we allow our unconscious to take the experiences of the past, and allow it to do what it does naturally. We allow it to use those experiences to best recreate ourselves in the grandest vision that we have for ourselves. And again, when we just choose to live a specific identity, we can trust that our unconscious will bring to us the resources to make it so.
I want to use the analogy for a moment of learning how to ride a bike. Most of us can remember that time in our life when we were looking at overcoming that major obstacle of balance, and coordination. We may not remember every detail; but it is something that we can all pretty much associate with. If you have never ridden a bike, think about something specific that you needed to learn, and it took repeated attempts to do.
Now, I want you to open your mind for a moment to the idea of what I have just been speaking about. We can see that the very first time we attempted to ride the bike, we had limited to no understanding of either the balance or coordination it would take to make the bike go from point A to point B. But we saw other kids doing it, and we knew that we wanted to do it also. Our “identity” was that we were going to be a bike rider. And if you like me approached it like most kids do, there was no possibility of us not becoming a bike rider. That was our goal, our vision, or the identity that we were choosing to become so to speak.
So we climb on the bike, and we push off with our foot and try to raise it to the pedal. Now I don’t know about you, but the very first time I tried to take my foot from the ground to the pedal an interesting thing happened. All of a sudden there were all these new variables happening that I didn’t know how to deal with. In an instant, I needed to balance, steer, propel myself forward, and find a way to get my foot onto the pedal. In lifting my foot off the ground and going for the pedal, I added even more variables than were there before and in doing so had shifted the whole experience. Just by shifting my weight, every aspect shifted.
Now, I don’t know about you, but my first attempt to go from ground push off, to pedal… failed. Now I am not saying that the bike fell over and I scraped my knee. I am saying that on that very first attempt, my foot did not make it from the ground onto the pedal before I started losing balance and control. Fear set in because of these new variables and because I had no past references on how to adjust for them, and I had to set my foot back down on the ground. Think about it. How many of you can remember that same experience.
Now, staying with what we discussed earlier. If I had to now, look at my mistake, analyze it and make the choices of what my next step would be, I would have had to analyze my knowledge of balance, muscle control, gravity, and numerous secrets of the universe before I could push off again with my foot and attempt to ride.
I don’t know how it was for you, but at that age, I was more concerned with getting out there with my cousins and riding than I was with creating a checklist of what went right and what went wrong. So in that moment I trusted my unconscious. I stayed true to my identity of becoming a bike rider, and I pushed off again, knowing that to be a bike rider I needed to be able to move forward and peddle. So I pushed off again, and in a nanosecond, my unconscious took all the new information it had just received from the previous experience, and made all the necessary adjustments to allow me to progress from my first attempt.
Did I automatically become a bicycle riding God? No, but I progressed from my last attempt of lifting my foot an inch or two, to where this time my foot at least bumped against the peddle before I chose to reset it to the ground. Amazingly, for some unknown reason, the handlebars wobbled a little bit less. Hmmmm, could it be I was learning without having to go back and analyze?
My unconscious pulled all the necessary references and resources from my first experience to allow me to become more of my vision of myself. So with this new information in my unconscious mind, I tried again, this time my foot made it to the pedal and as it did, a new variable was added. There was an instability that was created when my foot connected, which threw off my balance. So back I went to putting my foot down on the ground.
I can go through this step by step, but I believe that we can all see the point I am going for here. It was not through self-analysis on a conscious level that I was able to progress to riding my bike. Yes, there were some obvious things that arose where I said, “Ok, next time, if I want to go farther, I need to make sure I miss Gram’s rose bush”, but most of the processes that allowed me to miss her rose bush next time happened unconsciously. By making the decision that I was going to move in a specific direction, the most powerful part of my being called forth the resources to allow it to happen. Does this make sense?
The challenge seems to start happening as we get older and more intelligent. We decide that analyzing something will give us the best benefits. Now please understand what I am going to say here. I do believe in looking at information that is presented to you when making a decision, but make it a decision of recreating yourself. Of “Creating” the identity you have laid out for yourself. What I disagree with is looking at how the “circumstances of my past” have become the determining factor of who I am now.
There seems to be a lot of people who have been trained to believe that, “Since a kid who I can’t remember the name of… from the third grade told me that I was ugly, that kid has caused me to unconsciously continue stuffing gross amounts of food into my system in an attempt to overcome the pain of my dog wanting to have a sex change at the age of two”. Confusing? I hope so. To believe that your current life is being controlled by that past event should be as confusing as what you just read.
Make a decision now, of who you choose to be based on this moment, and move towards it. Then trust the power of your unconscious to pull to you the same amount of positive reinforcement, as you seem to believe that it has to pull negative reinforcement.
We all have to remember that the past… is just that. You can’t recapture the moment that has passed. You can’t take back what you said or did. So rather than reliving it over and over again wishing you could, why not, if you do choose to look back consciously, look to the memories that support who you truly are?
< Lessons Learned Introduction Chapter 2 >
The Warrior Sage Part 2: Lessons Learned Chapter/Section
Lessons Learned Through Sacred Scars
Chapter 1: Understanding The Power Of The Sub-Conscious Mind
Chapter 2: Discovering Peace
Chapter 3: Living In The Now
Chapter 4: The Gift Is In The Present Moment
Chapter 5: It's About Choices
Chapter 6: Understanding Change
Chapter 7: The Power Of Modeling
Chapter 8: Being Human - What Does It Mean?
Chapter 9: The Cost Of Living A Dual Life
The Warrior Sage: Sacred Scars Chapter/Section
Who Is Willard Barth?
Preface - Exploring Strength And Weakness
Chapter 1:1 - The Process Of Self-Awareness
Chapter 1:2 The Stages Of Child Development
Chapter 2:1 The World Changed Forever
Chapter 2:2 The Vicious Cycle Begins
Chapter 2:3 Losing Faith
Chapter 2:4 My Dark Secret
Chapter 2:5 Where Is The Love I Was Promised?
Chapter 3:2 The Road To Alcohol Dependence
Chapter 3:3 Leaving My Childhood Behind
Chapter 3:4 Escaping Responsibility; The Joy Ride Ends
Chapter 3:5 Living A Duality Begins
Chapter 3:6 Out Of Control
Chapter 3:7 Crossing The Line To Insanity
Chapter 3:8 The Black-out Drinking Begins
Chapter 3:9 Facing The Music
Chapter 3:10 A New Beginning
Chapter 3:11 More Lessons To Learn
Chapter 4:1 The Final Party
Chapter 4:2 A Moment Of Clarity
Chapter 4:3 My New Life Begins
Chapter 4:4 Sober, Time To Face The World
Chapter 4:5 The First Year Of Sobriety
Chapter 4:6 Major Change Comes In Year Two
Chapter 4:7 My Daughter Is Born April 20, 1992
Chapter 5:1 Life Changing Decisions Follow My Daughter's Birth
Chapter 5:2 Recognizing The Voice Inside
Chapter 5:3 The Empress Hotel
Chapter 5:4 A New Chapter In My Life Begins
Chapter 6:1 Finding My Way Home
Chapter 6:2 Falling Into Place
Chapter 6:3 A New Awareness
Chapter 6:4 Personal Finances and Personal Development
Chapter 6:5 The George Washington Story
Chapter 6:6 Letting Go So Others Can Grow
Chapter 6:7 The Wrap Up
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