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Evolutionary Blog

Distinctions to accelerate your personal and professional evolution

On Ego Development | Self Esteem

Your Self Worth is a Settled Matter 

I wrote this to a client in an email and thought it may be useful for others to read:

The mountain we climb in Personal Evolution is a bit like a mirage while hiking/climbing a mountain. You could stop now and camp for the night--or say screw it and go back down the mountainside. You can also see there is a reachable summit. So you choose to go further--yet...when you reach what you thought would be the summit, there is yet another summit that materializes out of the mist. And this goes on forever. There is no omega point except when you choose to simply stop and rest. 

Each of us have that choice every day. For some, we still consciously choose to continue to deepen our depths--and plumb just behind them. There is no end or bottom to the depth, there are only unplumbed depths. For others, they have achieved a high enough peak, that there is no motivation--no real life reason--to climb the next.  And there are others I will not list in the interests of time. I choose--consciously--to evolve further when I should or must--that is when my business or financial or relational results are inhibited by some aspect of myself. Otherwise, I am pretty darned content with where I am at--BUT I still need to have constant attention on where I need to be for others in the context in which I want to move with greater velocity--or frankly, sometimes, ANY velocity.

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How to Get Clients and Testimonials Today

A question I hear often is this:

"What is the quickest way to get new clients."

It is a good question and since I have heard it so many times recently, I thought I would give you all the strategy I recommend. If you use this simple approach, you can get new clients and testimonials today.

1. Call up clients you have worked with in the past to see how they are doing.

2. When they start talking about what a great experience it was to work with you and the results they experienced in their life ask them if you can quote them on that. Type it up and send it to them for their approval. This takes the one obstacle out of the way for them--the time and energy it would take to write it up.

And of course ::: ALWAYS make sure they have approved of the testimonial before publishing it anywhere.

3. Once they have told you exactly how great it was to work with you ask them if they know anyone else who might enjoy that kind of experience. Of course they will.

4. Ask them to get that person's permission to give you their contact information. That way, you can be proactive and again, if you are truly being of service, you will take the variable out of the equation.

Which variable?

They may forget--they may lose your information. They may get scared. If you use a passive approach by waiting for them to call not only has their life not been served, but you have lost business. 

I can not count the number of times a prospective client told me that they had simply forgotten to call me and they were grateful I had called.

Four simple steps and you have either a testimonial, or a referral--or both. I hope this makes a difference in your business and in your life today.

In Service,

Jason

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Living Consciously | Fulfilling Relationships: Values & Forms

values-forms

One of the aspects of working on and in the context of personal evolution is that I am constantly in evolution in both senses of the word--"in it", as in exploring the context and in the process of my own personal evolution as well--because you see, it is never over. Our evolution, which is really about allowing the greatest depths of ourselves to unfold and manifest in the world, is never over--because our depths are infinite. If who we are is a manifestation of the divine--an outpouring of Spirit, and the Kingdom of God is Within [and I believe it is] then there is no end to uncovering, clearing, and allowing that beauty to unfold in the world.

And I never ask my clients to do anything I have not done myself and am applying in my own life. Period. As such, this post is a little more personal for me to demonstrate that.

After my divorce, and the year-long self-reflection that followed, I realized that for the most part, what consistently happened in my romantic relating was a zero-sum type of dynamic. That at the end of my relationship with a woman, she was tangibly more empowered, more comfortable with herself, more fully embodied, and proud of her womanhood.

Partly because it was my constant practice to be sure she felt loved, had per positive qualities acknowledged somehow on an actual daily basis [not the same ones, but what authentically struck me at the moment as I appreciated her at some point], that she not only had a daily reminder, with full connection and presence of my love for her [and what I loved about her and why] but that she blushed with my acknowledgments.

It was conscious. Intentional. And the relating really cost me dearly. I was psychically drained, more dis-empowered, and frankly, less of a man by the end. It was, in fact, a zero-sum game.

It was not the things I was doing that drained me. They were rewarding to just do it. It was the lack of any reciprocal expression, I think. And I other things they did that I lacked facility around.

The contrast had never been so great than after my divorce--and the dynamics never so clear as in that marriage.

Now, I never planned it that way, but once I noticed it after the divorce, I ended up having a zero-tolerance policy for romantic relating that was not about synergistic upward spirals where both people were winning--and the relating was winning too. A triple win game. Both parties were winning--AND the actual relating was winning too. It is healthier for me to just be alone and fully empowered McClain-Ness than to be in unfulfilling and relating that ultimately cost me energetically. Although it took me a while to adjust to that, and sadly there was one relationship in which she ended up being drained...but it is all a process--and sometimes that is about the pendulum swinging the other way before it swings back the middle to finally rest upon the golden mean.

But back to zero-sum...

Let's face it--people who have little or no self-respect choose bad and even abusive relationships over being alone. Me? I would rather wake up alone, be in the company of just myself, than be in an unhealthy or un-fulfilling relationship. And I never have [and never will] just go from one relationship to another. Takes at least 6 months or so for self-reflection and the integration of the learnings before we can be responsible with another's heart, But that is all romantic...

Six years later, I am just now getting to really make sure that is generalized into all relating--not just romantic.

This is all part of how I have been consciously going through ALL of my friendships, free of sentimentality or attachment, and shrewdly examining if they are rich, dynamic, healthy, and fulfilling--or if they are just habits. And then explicitly ending the friendship or deepening and continuing the friendship with more connection, engagement, and intentionality. Regardless of how much I love the individual I am in the friendship with I may be ending. The relating must also be fulfilling. and one of the most important things for me that has the relating fulfilling is emotional engagement...rather than fear and detachment. But real engagement--yet also free of identification or enmeshment.

SOMETIMES that means me making decisions for other people when their relating with me is not serving THEM. I used to refuse to do so, thinking I was availing them of the growth opportunity to declare boundaries, make those choices themselves, develop confidence in communicating their needs, etc. But given that most people are deficient in true esteem for the self, and self-respect [part of which is demonstrated by drawing boundaries] is one of the core components of esteem for the self [along with self-efficacy] but I stopped doing that. I am now quite comfortable making choices for others when they continually demonstrate they incompetent to do for themselves--so long as it is about relating with me.

That is quite enough of the why and the what. But what about the "how" Jason?

It is all about values and forms.

One of the exercises I have clients do in Phase 2 of the Personal Evolution program [and occasionally in the professional evolution program as well] is a full life, all context examination of what is important to them [values] and how they would know if it were being experienced by them; what would they be seeing, feeling hearing, doing, and experiencing that would prover to them they were experiencing value X, Y, or Z? Conflict often happens in the form [which is why politicians are scant on policy papers before the election]. Values [freedom, security, justice] are things that everyone can agree on--we all want that. The HOW of carrying them out? Conflict arises sure as the sun also rises.

So in seeking friendships or romantic relating, it is not enough to express that "communication" is important to us. For some that will mean asking about your day. For others that will mean that if you are bothered by something, no matter how small, you share your internal process. Communication is the value, but the form is different.

Anytime we are upset, barring an unresolved event from the past or a pervasive self-esteem issue, we must look to values. So this becomes a tool for elegant communication to have your needs expressed [and met] as well. One that avoids conflict or having the other person be wrong. One that has intimacy and a deeper level of understanding arise.

But that is a story for another time.

For now, do this:

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Emotional Freedom Part 4: Guilt and Shame

Be sure to see parts one, two, and three here, here, and here respectively. In this piece we will examine the assumptions that lead to guilt, the structure of shame, and the antidotes to both. Guilt Q: “I often feel guilty for things I have done.” A: [S.N. Geonka ] “Guilt has no place in Dhamma [the path to enlightenment or ‘the law of nature’].” I assert that guilt serves no purpose in inter-personal relations. No legitimate purpose. Some say “if the person feels guilty or remorseful, then I can be assured they will not repeat this terrible wrong they committed against me” or “ I am assured of their good character”. Is this accurate? Let’s examine this together. Sharon slept with another man, violating the monogamous covenant she shared with her husband. She felt “bad” and out of guilt, told him the truth. She swore it would never happen again. Seeing how badly she felt, her husband felt assured this would not happen again and stayed with her and the marriage commitment. A few years later, Sharon was unfaithful a second time and in fact, carried on an affair with another man. This time she felt she best not be honest with her husband. How many chances would he give her, really? Unfortunately, he found out about it through some carelessness of hers and some direct questioning which followed. Again, she was authentically remorseful and felt guilty for misleading and breaking her husband’s trust—she did not feel bad just for getting caught, rather she felt authentically guilty for what she had done. They separated, sought counseling, and eventually divorced. Far from Sharon being a fiction of my mind for the purpose of illustration, this story is real, and the name has been changed. And, this is just one example of many I could give of patterns of behavior, remorse or guilt, and repetition of the problem behavior. Guilt is unreliable [at best] as a guarantee of future behavior. We have all seen people apologize and be guilt-ridden, yet commit the same acts repeatedly. I go so far in my own relations as to let people know very clearly that their guilt and apologies hold no currency with me. I WANT them to feel free emotionally about any “wrong” they may have committed against me. At the same time, I may not want them to commit the same act against me again—I do want assurance of a shift in behavior and an honest and earnest intention by them to do so through learning. For that, guilt does not help. In fact, it is a hindrance What is simply needed is their acknowledgement of the mistake and their pledge to not commit the act again. If it happens repeatedly, then there are practical choices to be made: do we continue to invest time and energy with this individual?

In essence, they need to demonstrate they have learned from the mistake. Not because we made them feel guilty by berating them subtly or not-so-subtly, or they made themselves feel guilty by beating themselves up, but because they noticed their own lack of integrity, or perhaps they did not live up to their own standard, or perhaps that the results that they produced by this mistaken action were unpleasant for all and should be avoided and in noticing that, they self-corrected in a clean and rapid way. Of course, we can simply take note and shrug our shoulders knowing that we are all on our own path. They are on theirs and I am on mine. And there are times, certainly, on the other end of the spectrum, where I choose not to associate with the person any longer. What is important through all of it is clarity, cleanliness of interaction, and grace where possible. Wanting someone to feel guilty or remorseful is one of the most selfish and ego-centric implicit demands we can make. It speaks to wanting the misery to be spread even further than it already has for our own short-term gratification. Whatever the case, the guilt simply clouds clear thinking, delaying the appropriate resolution of the conflict, and is therefore unnecessary and undesirable. Additionally, it is suppressive to the whole system and can lead to immune problems, which leads in turn to health and well-being problems. Why would we want that? As mad as it may seem, we do want it sometimes, don’t we? Not as above where we think Sharon “should” feel bad. But rather, one darker step further—we want her to feel bad. We enjoy it. Take pleasure in it. We feel it is deserved and appropriate. That it is “just”. We want it because they harmed us and we experienced misery and so we want them to feel miserable too. We want them to share in our misery. This is clearly madness. One person in misery is enough. Why expand the scope if not for dynamics of power and control or to exact a psychic price. Is this the world we want to create? Are those the dynamics we want in our relations? Again, what is ultimately important is not how the person feels about what they have done—but they take earnest steps to learn from our mistakes and integrate the leaning into our behavior. We want assurance that the event or act will not happen again and we have clearly seen that guilt does no such thing. Demanding guilt will only add more misery and heaviness in the air. And what about that? In an even clearer situation, what about “guilt trips” where we have done nothing “wrong” but we have not met someone’s expectations or social conditioning and they attempt to extract guilt, or worse, shame us? I will simply say that they are the crudest tools for influencing someone I have ever experienced and to reward someone for using it by allowing it to be effective only feeds the wild animal. Additionally, if we try and use guilt heavy-handedly when someone has overcome great fear to tell us the difficult truth, as Sharon did in her first transgression, we only assure ourselves they will feel less inclined to tell us the truth in the future, as we made it too painful. And in doing so, we have just killed off intimacy. Guilt, however, has a close cousin that is more complex and worthy of closer examination… Shame Shame is even more interesting to me than guilt, and its structure is more complex. Shame has several components:

  • A compressed sense of time
  • A case of mistaken identity
  • An evaluation that is a confusion of logical levels

Time I have written before about our unconscious sense of time. When I work with clients who are experiencing shame, they invariably have a compressed sense of time. That is to say that their focus is limited to an act, an event, or a small series of events. Often, consciously expanding their sense of time while pointing out to them that that this act, or series of acts will not define who they are--which leads us to… A case of mistaken identity “The ultimate spiritual practice is dis-identifying from that which you think is you—objects in your awareness.” –Ken Wilber Who am I, who are you? What aspect of our lives are we identified with? Literally, we think [unconsciously] that we are our behaviors or our thoughts or our finances or our sexuality or our social reputation or our looks, or relationships or our…etc., and on and on. We can know this of one of three conditions are present:

  1. we have extreme fear about losing something
  2. we experience extreme misery or despair of one of these things is taken from us or we “lose” it
  3. we experience shame if it is jeopardized by our behaviors

Which leads us to… Behaviors, capabilities, beliefs, identity, spirit; logical levels of experience. If we have a confusion of logical levels, we will often confuse our behaviors, our capabilities, our beliefs, or our constructed identity with who we truly are, and therefore mistakenly judge ourselves by one of these levels. I behaved in XYZ manner and therefore I AM _______. But who we truly are is god, is radical spirit is pure consciousness or awareness, or even a learning being, a force of creativity, etc. Given all of that, what are the antidotes to guilt and shame? The antidote to guilt requires partnership: you must co-create clean relating with those willing and make explicit agreements around guilt and learning. Specifically that guilt holds no currency and learning holds a pot of gold. Guilt is “out of bounds” either self-imposed or demanded. It is that simple. It may not be easy, but it is simple. The antidote to shame is more complicated, and more rewarding, in my opinion, and has more lasting benefits that ripple out to all areas of your life. It requires several steps of skill acquisition, and therefore continual practice:

  1. Develop emotional awareness; notice when you are in the shame
  2. Develop perceptual flexibility; step out and notice your emotional state thereby dis-identifying from it [NOT disassociating, but rather dis-identifying]
  3. Expand your focus to include other positive representations of your behavior, and consciously expand your unconscious sense of time
  4. Remind yourself that whoever you think you are [behaviors, etc.] you are more than that.
  5. As always ask yourself: “how am I responsible” and “what can I learn?”
  6. Add resources and imagine yourself behaving with these additional resources in the future

As you read this, and review it in your mind, you can begin to imagine, even now, how these practices and skills would give you choice and eventual freedom—and not just from shame, but with full integration, from all unnecessary negative emotional experiences. Join me in creating the kind of world in which we all want to belong. A world in which unnecessary negative emotional experiences are known to be just that—unnecessary—giving us access to a world of choice, and through that choice, joy and freedom, and through that, beauty of unknown richness. *acknowledgements: as usual, these I.D.E.A.s were inspired by [but may not be reperesentative of] work by minds greater than mine.

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Emotional Freedom Part 3: Anger and Resentment

[Note: While this is not a discussion of egoic development, we can not stress enough the foundational necessity of true esteem for the self for emotional freedom. So many upsets, be they anger upsets, shame, fear, etc., can be traced to a lack of esteem for the self—that is pre-rational or early-rational egoic development. From anger to shame, the variable of one’s egoic developmental stage is undeniably an important factor. But that is another discussion for another time. I have written briefly about egoic stage development and will occasionally refer to these distinctions in this discussion.] Be sure to see parts one and two here and here, respectively. Now that we have covered interpretations and extrapolated meanings, what of specific dynamics within each emotion? What of anger? Resentment? Guilt? Shame? What other variables lead to negative emotions aside from lower egoic development? For it is through this knowledge, using our self-reflexive awareness and meta-cognition, that we can notice these dynamics as they are happening, and choose a different path. Anger. Anger has at least two components.

  • Indicator of a crossed boundary
  • Blame

Often anger is “just-ified”. That is, with respect to justice, we are “right” in being angry. Maybe someone has violated our person or property. Perhaps they have broken an agreement. Perhaps they have deceived us intentionally. We have little choice around the action of others. They will do what they do, as we are all on our own path. However, when we are angry, often we are blaming them for what they have done. This is different and separate from holding them accountable, which is appropriate, but goes further into a game of pre-rational ego. Let’s say that I had my car stereo stolen. I come out in the morning and I notice it gone and the dashboard area around where it was previously installed is damaged. I call the police and I wait seething in my anger. “what a low-life thief”, I say to myself along with numerous other colorful expletives. Once the police come they ask me a few questions: “Do you have a car alarm?” Yes, I tell them. “did you hear it go off last night?” No, I tell them, regrettably I did not set it last night. “Were the car locks damaged?” No, I tell them…the car was unlocked… We can quickly see where this is going. While the crime of the stolen stereo is indeed a crime and may be punished and is an unfortunate violation of my person by the extension of my property, the responsibility is mine to lock my vehicle, set my alarm, and care that my car is secured. Once I begin to take responsibility by asking the two key questions:

  • How am I responsible
  • What can I learn or gain from this that will allow me to release the anger completely?

The blame will dissolve and the anger will begin to fade away.

The truth is, no matter what has happened to us: assault, theft, harsh words thrown at us, fraudulent deception, broken agreements, or unrequited love--no matter what has happened, there is something we can take responsibility for and something, or many things, we can learn that once learned will release the anger entirely. And no, learning that “all men are jerks” is not the kind of learning I am referring to. It must be something insightful or positive and empowering about yourself or about the world. There are times when we get angry with others for not meeting or violating one of our expectations. Often, these are implicit, unstated expectations. In this case, the only responsible thing to do is notice this, take responsibility for it, and make a request of the other person so they are more fully informed of your expectations. [For a fuller treatment of the ideas of rules and fair play see relationdancing.] We must stress, however, that no matter how “just”-ified the anger is, it is still not useful for anything other than dynamics of control and dominance. In fact, one must get through the anger first to see things clearly anyway, to see through to justice, rather than demand vengeance and retribution. Again, the way to accelerate the process until one is emotionally free is to ask the two key questions above—and we do it for ourselves. Not for the Other. The first question, “how am I responsible?”, shifts the focus from blaming Other to a more responsible “I” and as a result, assists in building true esteem for the self as any responsibility-taking action does. It builds our sense of self. The second question, “what can I learn?”, turns the event into a learning experience and a gift and the conditional clause “that will allow me to release the anger completely” assures that our mind will give us a deep learning. The deeper the learning, the more fortunate we are to have unfortunate events occur to us. I know this from an abundance of first hand experience. In the case of anger—and indeed in the case of all unpleasant emotions—the Evolutionary uses their self-reflexive awareness [which we have all been practicing daily] to notice when the anger arises. They observe the sensations and then ask the two key anger questions and notice the internal shift in their sensations after answering the questions. The idea is not to never experience anger [although you will find after daily practice and rigorous application that fewer and fewer things will anger you]. The goal here is to simply shorten the duration for which you experience the anger. Shortening and shortening and shortening the duration until it is mere minutes and then mere seconds rather than hours, or days, or for some of us still in an emotional prison: weeks and months…or longer. Resentment is a little different. Resentment still requires blame, as anger does, however it has an interesting residuary element. It builds and builds even after anger is experienced and expressed or released. I like to think of it this way—it is an indicator that the person I resent is overdrawn on their emotional bank account with me. Not that they are to blame—it just is so. Where then can we take responsibility such that we can release the resentment? What is usually the case with this residue we call resentment? It did not happen overnight. It built over time. What else can we say about resentment? There were perhaps [and probably] many points along the way in our dealings or interactions with the person we feel resentment towards when we wanted to say no, and we chose to say yes for various reasons. In other words, we failed to honor our internal voice, knowing, instinct, or intuition—our inner desires or wisdom. We failed to honor ourselves. In doing so we were irresponsible indeed. Over time we built resentments, and then we blame them—essentially—for our inability to honor ourselves and say no when we knew it was best for us. The madness continues. [In part 4 we will explore guilt and shame]

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