Evolutionary Blog

Distinctions to accelerate your personal and professional evolution

Becoming Your Own Guru | What Triggers are and How to Best Relate to Them

triggered

Given all this talk of responsibility and blame, how do we best relate to triggers?  What are they? How do they occur?

Triggers are most often referring to feelings of hurt or anger.  What I mean when I say “trigger” is that you lose the balance of your mind or that you “lose facility with self” in a disproportionate way.

Some people call it “going into red”. Some refer to it as a “trauma response”. Some refer to it as “pissing you off”, or what have you. There can be many names for it, but I think the disproportionate nature of it - where you say things you have to apologize for or simply can’t communicate responsibly - or simply yell or lash out or hurt the other person physically or verbally - is symptomatic of being “triggered”.

We usually speak about them in a relationship as if the other person is somehow to blame for our lack of emotional facility or rationality.  “They triggered me” or “they made me angry” or my personal favorite “you made me worry” we can be heard saying.

Yes. That’s right:  they put a gun to your head and made you fantasize horrible things may have happened to them. When really all that was happening was their cell phone battery died. Or they fell asleep. But they made you worry.

What is the problem with this? 

Not only does this give our power away, but it also makes other people responsible for our feelings, which is simply not the case.

They did not trigger us - it is not their behavior that is the problem:  it is our relationship to what they did that is the problem. Or it is how we interpreted it - what we made up or made it mean - that produced the emotional response in us. We got triggered.  Or it triggered something from our past. More often than not, something that happened triggered off something from our past - or a series of events from our past - hence the disproportionate nature of the trigger. 

We’ve all experienced this in the micro. If your lover keeps leaving dirty underwear on the counter or leaves the empty toilet paper roll on the dispenser without replacing it … and it happens over and over again - you may have a disproportionate response to that and blow up at them about that or about something else. 

This is good news; something from our past that is unresolved or in need of resolution has presented itself.

This is a gift if we relate to it as such.

My partner does not trigger me. I get triggered. Or something from my past was triggered.

If I relate to it like they triggered me AND I wait for them to come in after me and “make it right” I am not only playing a victim, I am making them responsible for my trigger and my happiness. Even worse: they now have all the power over my current emotional state: and I gave it to them by blaming them.

There are also some who use this as a control dynamic/power play; withholding love or connection until you “make it right” when in fact you broke no agreements. But they hold you hostage - or perhaps you have done this yourself to someone to feel special or … extract your pound of flesh.

This is not the exercise of power - it is the use of emotional force. True power comes from developing your facility with self; learning to navigate your interiors - so that you can have ease, flow, and happiness in your life - and a funny thing happens when you do: people enjoy being around you more when you manage your own internal experience - because you are giving them the freedom to be themselves.

They will thank you for being gracious. They will thank you for being understanding. But mostly, they will continue to be more and more self-expressed as you will have clean relating absent of any shame or irresponsibly expressed anger. They won't feel blamed simply for being themselves.

Here is where I give you two new tools - practices really - one for resolving shame, hopelessness and other “emotional atmospheres” as I like to call them, and one for dissolving anger while simultaneously building empathy and compassion.

If you master these simple practices, you will enjoy lasting and increased levels of joy, happiness, and ease, where you used to beat yourself up, get frustrated or angry - or blamed others for things and felt powerless.

You will become equanimous.

This will give you true power, but it is absent of any force.

One of my favorite translations of the word "guru" is "one who is solid in themselves" - so they can not be blown over by external events. I have no interest in being your guru. But I am heavily invested in helping you become your own guru.

These tools will speed you on that path.

Copyright

© Jason D McClain

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The Ultimate Meditation | The Law of Attraction is Already Working For You, But Not The Way You Might Think

Thinking-about-thinking-730x335 Metacognition is the most important capacity to develop for personal development

Communication skills: we often think of how skilled we are communicating with others but the more important skillset is how we communicate with ourselves.
 
You are communicating with yourself every second of every waking moment. Not just stuff you say to yourself. That's obvious. But futures you imagine. Situations you think about. Imaginings of outcomes.
 
This is why meta-cognition and meta-awareness is the most important capacity to develop of all.
 
The ability to rapidly notice any thoughts that do not serve you - because everything is self-hypnosis - and change them to positive and empowering thoughts is the ultimate skill.
 
For some, they never notice the negativities - and then they wonder why the Law of Attraction does not work for them. It is. It does. Whether you realize it or not. The thing you think about most often, for the longest duration, with the most emotional intensity will come to pass.
 
So if you wake up with anxiety, filled with worry, you are imagining negative futures or outcomes. Probably accompanied by internal self-talk about how you might fail or “what if it does not work out”? Sitting down for a 10-minute meditation to think positive thoughts about what you want to create is not going to counteract hours of worry and fear.
 
No.
 
The real meditation is becoming aware of every thought you think every moment of every day. Become aware of that - and master it - and you will master your emotions, your inner life, and ultimately realize your vision.
 
Even when stuff goes sideways - and you have unexpected crises, with this ingrained as a habit, you will recover much faster and find solutions far more easily, and do it while having the pleasure of knowing it will all work out just fine no matter what.

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This is an excerpt from Jason's forthcoming book on Evolutionary Relationships from the #RelationshipContinuum section.

To be Guided by Jason - whether you are currently in a relationship and want to transform it, or you are single and want to “do the next one right” - check out the Evolutionary Relationships offering.

Or just schedule a complimentary initial conversation here to get the process started.

 

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Facility With Self

meditating-suit-facility-self-woman Facility With Self and The Ultimate Skill

Facility With Self

The title of this piece is one of my favorite ways to sum up what I think is the ultimate capacity and the most valuable skill set in life is. It is also access to being emotionally free, flexible, and generally more happy, regardless of your circumstances.

This is also where I remind you that communication skills - and in this case, you are communicating with yourself - are physical skills. They are awkward at first. They take practice to become proficient in. They take repetition to master.

Gaining Facility With Self is the most challenging and most rewarding guiding principle - as well as a set of capacities - to take on. In addition, I assert that there is nothing in life external to one’s self that cannot be managed, overcome, conquered by having greater Facility with Self.

Many of you have asked me what this thing is. What are its component parts? This is complicated and the answer has been long coming, but this piece is written for the purpose of providing as complete an answer I can muster at my current level of insight and writing ability. 

I trust you will read it generously, knowing that some aspects of the distinctions are beyond these two elements currently - and must be demonstrated and/or experienced as they involve navigating our interiors.

Let me say that none of what I write here is the “truth”; I am not even interested in debating its accuracy—while I think I could. What I am asking you to do is try it on for the purpose of your own personal evolution. Not what is true but what is useful for that outcome and for the outcome of your own happiness via developing ultimate choice with your own emotional and mental experience.

Necessary Operating Assumptions

Most people are not even aware of their operating assumptions. You could also call these beliefs, filters, and presuppositions. One of the necessary first steps to Facility With Self is to acknowledge and take responsibility for the fact that we all have operating assumptions, beliefs, and filters. Most people operate as of the are their “truth”s. Most of them are sweeping generalizations created from moments when they assessed something in their experience and extrapolated from it—often inaccurately. Judgment—a necessary skill for survival—gone awry. Most people have assumptions that do not serve them. For example people are out for themselves; I can not control my emotions; men are a certain way and women are a certain way and that’s that; a leopard can not change its spots, etc.

Anyway, I consider the necessary assumptions | beliefs | filters for Facility with Self to be (at least) the following:

  • Taking responsibility or owning my part is the fastest way to build a healthy sense of self
  • I have assumptions—they are under my control
  • Some (most?) of my filters are out of my awareness; it is possible to bring them into my awareness by paying attention to my subjective experience and my language patterns
  • I am 100% responsible for my emotional experience—it is under control if I develop the necessary capacities said another way:
  • My subjective experience (emotional life) of the world is completely generated by me and is the result of my interpretations, beliefs, perceptions, preconceived notions, distortions, etc.
  • There is always a way - and always an ethical way 
  • Flexibility and variation of approach toward a specified outcome—focus on results and my effectiveness towards such—will provide optimal probabilities of achieving that outcome; a fixed approach leads to less than optimal results
  • I have no inner enemies; I have parts—who are sometimes in conflict, but who have positive purposes. These parts can be honored, understood fully, and integrated to resolve the internal conflict contributing to my congruity with my espoused values.

These items can also be summed up as “attitudes”.

Necessary Skills (imitating the Buddha)

Once the necessary attitudes are in place as operating presuppositions, there are some skills that come into play. The first is some agility in the ability to occupy multiple perceptual positions or to experience the world in “triple description”. Some people have asserted that the ability to move through all three perceptual positions - at will - to be a good operating definition of mental health. 

Additionally, the evidence, as well as the practice of Personal Evolution, is the ability to take on an ever-increasing number of perspectives. but without these foundational three, you will not have any facility at all.

What are these perceptual positions? At least the first three:

  • Self: being in your own body. Seeing out of your own eyes. Knowing what you want.
  • Other: walking in someone else’s shoes. Seeing the world through their eyes with their filters—feeling into them; empathy
  • Observer: the position of director of a play or an interested third party who is observing.

It is important to remember that these are holarchically arranged. They are also known as First, Second, and Third, respectively. Holarchy?  For example, paragraphs contain sentences, but not the reverse. Sentences contain words, but not the reverse. Words contain letters, but not the reverse. In the same way, Second - a second position shift - requires first, but not the other way around. Third A third perceptual shift requires the ability to occupy both first, then second, and then take the perspective of third. It could be said that this is simply a shift in attention. The ability to project your awareness or your consciousness to a space and then perceive the world from a different angle is the beginning of the acquisition of this skill. For instance, what does your head look like from the back? Pretend the floor you are sitting on is plexiglass—what do you look like from beneath? Etc. Why is this a critical skill? […]

"Going Meta"

Going meta to your experience and acquiring what is commonly referred to as “meta-cognition” is the ability to have not only awareness but choice over your own thought processes. This is what Buddha’s vipassana meditation technique teaches. It is a skill and this skill holds the promise of allowing you to liberate yourself from the emotional roller-coasters - the vicissitudes - of life.

Once you can see the process is of your own making, and then master it, you will be truly free.

An event happens and then ⟹ you interpret it in a certain way, which leads to ⟹ your emotional reaction, and in that reaction, ⟹ you then make it mean something (your generalize) - often creating a limiting belief -  which then ⟹ leads to an emotional atmosphere.

Most people think this is a one-step process:  Something happens and then ⟹ they feel bad.

And most humans then blame the other person or external circumstances for the feeling. And in the process of blaming - lose all of their power.

This is why the most fundamental orientation to all of your experience is one of 100% responsibility - it is your access to choice and power.

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An Unconventional Approach to Suicide Prevention

suicide-prevention An Unconventional Approach to Suicide Prevention by Jason McClain

Everything (everything? Yes everything) is hypnosis.

That is not a meta-model violation*. That is a Universal Truth. Every thought you think. Every song you sing. Everything you do in your mind is self-hypnosis.

You are doing it already. And some of you are even doing it consciously. At times. Most times, you are not. Most times the inmates (negative thoughts/negative self-talk, therefore, negative trances) are running the prison.

It is so easy to make a difference in someone’s life with words of encouragement or an acknowledgment of something we appreciate about them.

Strangers are even more positively impacted. They probably go home and tell their spouse or sibling or friend about the random stranger who said the thing to them that day that had them laugh or feel appreciated or … and all we did was use their name from their name tag and ask them if everyone was treating them kindly today. We treated them like a human rather than an extension of the scanner attached to the checkout counter.

There are many ways to disrupt negative states (or say what it is: a self-imposed negative hypnotic trance) in others. Humor is one. Authentic kindness that shows a depth of seeing another is one. Tickling someone is one. Making a funny face at a crying child when you can see it and their parent’s back is to you (one of my personal favorites for public transportation) [pro tip: only lasts until mom or dad wonder why the toddler is suddenly giggling and they start to look around. I always pretend to be looking out the window. Never been caught yet. Then do it again. Build rapport with the toddler as it is just the two of you connected].

There are many others.

Sometimes just being more enthusiastic about someone’s negative trance will have them snap out of it.

Let me give an example by way of a recent and true personal story.

I have a friend who is suicidal - has truly given up on life. I recited for him (accurately hallucinated) all of his reasons he may be thinking this was the best option and he would say, “that’s right!” “How did you know?” or “That’s exactly right” each time (building rapport deeply by accurately projecting his motivations which were not known to anyone but himself).

He’s 80, and he has much he wanted to accomplish that he has not, but he has become a bitter, anxious, cynical old man and is really just waiting out his days. He thinks he is worth more to his wife dead (insurance) than alive. And that may be true even to her. They divorced 40 years ago and I don’t think you do that again - at this point, you just say screw it. But to her, he is nothing but unfulfilled promises and wasted potential. They live separately and only see each other for the grandchildren on the weekends and she treats him poorly.

And he can be an ass. But ... **shrug**

The truth is he just does not have it in him to rally for a Third Act.

Anyway, he has brought up the idea of assisted suicide enough times to me that this last time, I said: “you are really asking if I will help you”.

Yes, he said.

So I went at it with full gusto and in 15 minutes came up with a foolproof plan that would be painless, look like an accident, and require only things that he already had in his possession.

And then I said, with a chipper tone in my voice, “Awesome! You always said I could have this apartment when you died" and looking around the room ... "I’ll be sure the artwork goes to the appropriate art galleries or donate them wherever you want them (he said his some and his grandchildren had no interest in them). But I would like to keep this one (pointing to one piece) Let’s set a date! How much time do you need to get your affairs in order?” He looked at me curiously and settled on December 15th.

We chatted for a bit more and then I left.

I returned the next day around noon time.

And I came into his office. He offered me coffee. And I said, again with cheer in my voice: “So! December 15th, huh!? We get to end all this suffering for you once and for all. I hope you are ion action around your will and such.” and then I said (tapping my watch on my wrist ) “we’re on a clock mister. Count down has begun! “Let's get this ball rollin’.”

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Is Fear Useful? Emotions, Motivation, Identity, and Freedom

A few days ago, a student of mine - a graduate of the Evolutionary Sales course -- asked me if fear could be useful.

Below is my response. 

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Of course fear *can* be useful. Anything is useful in *some* context.

And in any situation where we are discussing intra-personal matters (our relationship with ourselves) the question is: "do we need to use negative emotions for their usefulness-or is there a way to get the same outcome with a method that creates harmony rather than dissonance and dis-ease?

I think the answer is pretty obvious.

This does occasionally come up with clients around motivation; they are not sure how they will motivate themselves without anxiety. In that situation we have to work with their meta-program around motivation; are they motivated toward vision or away from pain. I have it that it is not a wiring thing (we are "just that way" but a matter of choice, training, and conditioning).

Having said that, if you remove fear and replace it with nothing in terms of motivation, then you will run into problems of ... well, "lethargy" is not quite it, but you get my meaning I trust.

Going into this deeper, let's distinguish what we mean by "fear". I see the following:

1) Fight or flight where your body is in physical danger (rational fear)

2) Fight or flight where we are not in physical danger (irrational fear)

3) Anxiety around not knowing how to do something and we are forced to do it (like land a plane when you are not a pilot and lives are at stake).

4) Anxiety or panic when we imagine some performance situation going poorly (presentations / public speaking, approaching someone we are attracted to, etc.)

#1 and #3 are fine. In fact, #1 is critical for our survival; it can be life saving.

#2 is an invention of our mind and is created by a combination of a lack of facility with self / lack of skill at navigating our interiors and insufficient self-esteem. It is also usually resulting from a gestalt of fear that can and should be cleared out of our past.

#4 is pretty straight forward: it is imagining a future event with a negative outcome. And since that future is a fantasy, imagining it not going well is ... well, silly. It may not be conscious- or it often is. If you imagine giving a presentation and having your notes fall to the floor or everybody scoffing at you, then you will have anxiety (and other emotions). However, if you imagine it going well -- that everything is going to be fine and you make that your internal representation of the event -- imagine that "movie" then you will feel much, much better.

I am not personally motivated away from pain - it has almost no impact on me because of the life I have had; I can deal with pretty much any level of pain. I have also systematically cleared out fear, anxiety, anger, etc., etc., etc. And having worked on my ego structures for nearly 25 years, there is almost nothing that I am not certain I can handle, so it is simply ineffective for me personally. In general, I am future oriented, vision oriented, and "toward" motivated.

I have often found though, that you have to resolve the fear, guilt, shame, etc., before you can take the necessary steps you need to take to get the thing done you need to get done, so how about we skip the negative vibrations in our nervous system, and find ways to motivate ourselves without the blunt instrument of fear? And as we imagine how much more spacious we feel, and how much cleaner and clearer our vessel / channel is, we can live our purpose even more fully because our vehicle (body/mind/spirit/nervous system) does not have dissonance in it that needs to be calmed.

When you realize that you are unborn; when you meet the face you had before your parents were born- the pure Witness, then life becomes lela or play and you can thrust yourself into it with full gusto because you realize that you can't really die.

At that point you have disidentified from that which you *think* is you, but is not really you and you have identified with the ever-present Witness. You have become God.

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