Evolutionary Blog

Distinctions to accelerate your personal and professional evolution

Evolutionary Relating | Introduction to the Book

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This is from the introduction to the forthcoming book. You can find additional excerpts here.

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It’s the one thing that universally unites and connects us.


We are not united by national origin, gender, politics, ethnicity, and the like. Not universally. The one thing that unites us universally is this: 

Love

Any poem about love in any language still translates the same experience. Be it Rumi or Pablo Neruda: Love. It does not matter where your lover came from or whether you have the same birth language - or even speak the same language. Or what color they are. We can fall in love with anyone from any place from any religion of cultural background - at any time.

We’ve all experienced some version of it. 

Perhaps, for you, it was the rush of the chemical attraction; they touched your hand and the electricity was… unforgettable. Or maybe - for you - it wasn’t the chemistry.  Maybe it was  the feeling of finally being home. Or maybe it was finally feeling that familiarity - as if you've known someone for years and years even though you just met them.

But then at some point - sometimes sooner, sometimes later - when these feelings (many of which we discover are Illusions and projections) are dispelled, and the person begins to behave in ways that disappoint, confound, or even anger us, and we begin to question the connection that we have with them and - at times - perhaps even our own judgment.

Or, as my mother once quipped: the thing that you used to find cute now annoys you.

Inevitably we come face-to-face with how many assumptions we've made. How we have built our entire relationship and levels of trust as well as our desires about the future on these assumptions. And in our pain and confusion, we often make grave errors that only make matters worse and tragically make our future in that relationship - or the next - even worse than that. 

Ah … the distortions of heartbreak.

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Most of us do not know how to set ourselves up for success in the beginning - we start dating based on chemistry and attraction or availability - not on aligned values. We do not know how to have the conversations to set a baseline for what we will agree on - what our agreed foundation is - heck, some people wait so long to have these conversations that they are not even sure if they are monogamous or both dating other people … months into dating.


These are conversations that need to be had sooner rather than later. And some people know that, but they don’t know how to have those conversations.

Or when conflict arises that we lack the tools to navigate the situation in a way that feels successful, let alone connective and satisfying to both of you.  

Or when it stalls we don't know how to keep it alive, sexy, and have it continue to inspire and uplift - to bring out the best in us.

Or when it ends we have no constructive way to deal with the grief, the self-doubt, the anger, and no capacity to deal with feelings of betrayal or loss … or .. confusion. 

Some of us at that point in the process immerse ourselves so deeply into the process and into the feelings of loss that we may even think that we are destined to repeat the cycles - and perhaps some of you have that do not work and lock fundamental workability.

This book strives to solve most of the avoidable challenges and problems that arise in all three stages of relationships and provides structures and tools to assist you in working through the unpredictable - and in some cases unforeseeable - problems that arise. 

In the beginning: how to avoid unwarranted bliss and the inevitable crash - disappointment and even, how to avoid mediocrity in the middle or simply being in a habit rather than in a relationship, how to deal with anger fear jealousy all those things that can arise and create conflict in that middle stage. And of course, the confusion, anger, and grief that can arise when it ends if it ends and how to set yourself up for Success without vilifying the other person and how to reclaim your power if you've lost yourself in the relationship. 

As so many of us have friends who want to comfort us. But they rarely challenge us in our pain and while we blame.

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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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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 Your Relationship To God Wrecking Your Relationship With God? (Part 2)

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Be sure that you've read Part 1 » here «.

[Note to the reader: "God" is used throughout as a signifier to point to wherever you put your worship. It could be conventional religions as I will mainly address, but you could just as easily replace it with Gaia if you "put your worship" there--if the environment is your ultimate concern. or you could replace it with polytheistic beliefs such as Hinduism. Or maybe you put your worship in the Universe, consciousness, or Community. Consider that whatever your ultimate concern is, the concepts in this article can apply to that thing as "God" for you. Doing this will allow you to get the most from this article. -Jason D McClain]

 

As I asked in Part 1:


"...was Jesus really born of the Virgin Mary? Was Lao Tzu really born as a 900 year-old man? Is the earth really resting on the head of a giant serpent (or the shell of a giant tortoise)? And of course, the subject of great debate most recently it seems: is the Earth really only 6,000 years old? Are these facts—with belief in them required to enter into the afterlife? Or are they gorgeous and useful poetic metaphors pointing to a greater truth in a way that people at the time could accept, pointing to Divine power?"

These metaphors are a testament to the belief in stunningly powerful, mystical, and magical forces embodied in "Spirit". Stories told to the good common folk of those eras. Metaphors they could relate to. This was useful and good—in fact, it could have been no other way at the time. However, the vast majority that count themselves among the world’s religions have lost touch with this simple wisdom: that metaphors of their spiritual traditions do indeed hold tremendous aesthetic value and inspirational mythopoetic beauty, however, they are not the Truths themselves.

Nor should they really matter when discussing spiritual merit. Would we say someone was not a good person if they acted with love, grace and charity all of their life, dedicated to the service of others, but rejected the idea of the Virgin Birth? Of course not.

Sadly, focusing on the details of the metaphoric stories as a basis for “faith” rather than the individual relationship with the Universal Truths results in losing access to Divinity and Spirit. Ending up, in turn, hopelessly (and endlessly) arguing over details of form and presentation-details of stories told long ago so that simple people could easily have access to God. These arguments aren’t just friendly disagreements or intellectual debates engaged in among scholars; they have split families and divided congregations--and sent nations to war on too many occasions for us to want to list here.

The fact that this is so, and that is springs from traditions that were and are meant to free the spirit, spread love, and acceptance, and give hope to the hopeless, is no less than tragic.

So that we can attempt to avoid the same pitfalls, let us set aside what is “true” or “false” about these mythopoetic themes and focus instead on the more personal and individual experience. This is what is relevant for our discussion that is focused on the context of personal evolution.

For that, we need to address not the truth, but the utility of our relationship to the Divine--"to" vs. "with." This “to vs with” business is not just fun with prepositions. It has a very practical impact on our internal life and emotional experience.

The manner in which we relate to anything determines its meaning and importance in our lives. Whether that thing is a significant other, a new career opportunity, a rainy day, traffic on the highway, and/or yes, even “God”. Perhaps we should even say In fact, especially God—not because that is accurate, but simply because of the impact that our personal relationship with God has on our real-life happiness.

Let’s take traffic.

We have all experienced traffic on a highway. How do you relate to it? What is your interpretation of it? Do you view it as a waste of time? A hassle? An increase in vehicular pollution? Or perhaps you see it as a welcome break and use it to unwind on your way home listening to relaxing music or an opportunity to listen to a favorite book on audio? The obvious point is that how you “hold” this experience we call “traffic” in your subjective world will give rise to a specific and tangible emotional experience around it, or what we will call an “atmosphere”.

 “It is never the thing itself, but rather your relationship to it”.

Knowing that let’s take it out another level: it is not just how you relate “to” traffic that will determine your experience. While this is true, we could take one more step and realize that we are not just in traffic--if you are in your car in the middle of traffic, you are the traffic. You are at the very least a component part of it as a whole.

Think about that the next time you are cursing the traffic you are in.

You can see what we have done there, and you are likely already familiar with the importance of and the ability to “frame” your experience described in the above paragraphs. This is nothing new. Most of the wisdom traditions teach that how you interpret an event will determine your emotional experience around it—and with regular practice, you can discipline your mind to interpret your experience in a way that leads you to have the emotional experience of life that you desire. Simple. Not easy, but simple.

And yet, when we get to the context of God—we go all whacky. As if it somehow no longer applies.

Just as we examined if your relationship to traffic serves you, we will examine the same of your relationship to God.

I was with a client and we chased the source of his "issue" to a particular construction he has of God—and God and spirituality is very important to him.

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Is Your Relationship To God Wrecking Your Relationship With God? (Part 1)

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[Note to the reader: "God" is used throughout as a signifier to point to wherever you put your worship. It could be conventional religions as I will mainly address, but you could just as easily replace it with Gaia if you "put your worship" there--if the environment is your ultimate concern. or you could replace it with polytheistic beliefs such as Hinduism. Or maybe you put your worship in the Universe, Consciousness, or Community. Consider that whatever your ultimate concern is, the concepts in this article can apply to that thing as "God" for you. Doing this will allow you to get the most from this article. -Jason D McClain]

Is Your Relationship to God Wrecking Your Relationship With God?

It’s a provocative question, isn’t it?

Why even ask it? It is fraught with predicable emotional triggers and will produce reactions that may blur the importance and the point of the topic at hand.

We could use your relationship to your "self" or your relationship to others or even your relationship to money. The fact remains that we could use any of those concepts--any of those signifiers--to get to what we are pointing at and we will use a couple of them as lead-in examples because of their familiarity--but it would not be as effective to stop there for our larger conversation; not as effective as getting to the very root of our relationship to and with our deepest and highest stages. But even more to the practical: we will use God for the simple fact that there is no concept or question more galvanizing—making us sit up in our chair and pay attention--than questioning our very relationship to and with the Divine.

So we use “God”.

Before we begin to explore the question, we need to lay the ground on which we will stand: stages of egoic and emotional development. Stages that we interpret the world through and react emotionally from.  Stages through which we will interpret every aspect of our lives--events occurring around us, the actions of others as they relate to us, the world we navigate through politically, economically, romantically, and, yes, our spirituality and the nature of the Divine.

So if we are to examine our relationship to God (or “the Divine) then we must begin with an understanding of the lens we gaze through.

"God is like a mirror. The mirror never changes, but everybody who looks at it sees something different."  --Rabbi Harold Kushner

From pre-personal to personal to trans-personal. From vengeance to justice to grace. From pre-rational to rational to trans-rational. From ego-centric to enthno-centric or gender-centric or nationalistic to world-centric. From unconscious to conscious to super-conscious. These are just some of the ways we can label the grossest stages of development of the Self—and they are stages of increasing wholeness and increasing embrace. Each stage transcends, yet also include the benefits of the former. Each is noted for its increase in capacities and increase in the ability to hold an ever-increasing number of perspectives. We could also think about these stages as an expansion of what an individual can identify with or as. From ego-centric to ethno-centric / gender-centric / nationalistic to world-centric; identifying as just an individual to identifying as a member of a community or collective of individuals to identifying as a member of a global community—a citizen of the planet and a member of its ecosystem. Plainly put: our stage of self-development will determine our world-view—and that world-view will evolve over time. And that evolution will have a directionality.

Human development can be divided into three major phases: pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional, or pre-personal, personal and transpersonal (Wilber, et.al., 1986). This applies to the development of cognition, morality, faith, motivation and the selfsense. The infant enters the world unsocialized, at a pre-conventional stage, and is gradually acculturated into a conventional world-view, whether it be religious or secular. A few individuals develop further into post-conventional stages of post-formal operational cognition (Pfaffenberger, et.al., 2009), post-conventional morality (Sinnott, 1994;), universalizing faith (Fowler, 1995), self-actualizing and self-transcending motives (Maslow, 1971), and a transpersonal self-sense (Cook-Greuter, 1994; Wilber, 1980, 1983, 20001).

-Frances Vaughn, Journal of Transpersonal Research, 2010

We could say that one of the primary practices (as well as one of the primary indicators of personal evolution) is the ability to take on an ever-increasing number of perspectives; the ability to understand—even if not agreeing with—an ever-increasing number of perspectives or “views” of or “from” a given place.

And that lens—or lenses—is the filter through which we view the world as well as being the platform we will likely react from. This is not a box we can put ourselves or others in. It is not a classification as rigid as a “type”. Think of it more as a probability: a weather forecast, or a general orientation within high odds. Think of it more as a lump or a wave. But even still, the fact that we will likely interpret through and react from our “stage” of development of the “self” is hard-wired as a probability can get.

And, the endeavor we call “personal evolution” is the process of activating movement and moving through those stages.

Why is this important?

In the process of personal evolution we have both the mechanisms to create, and the path to enjoy, true peace within--and to reduce conflict without. An ever-expanding ability to hold an ever-increasing number of perspectives leads to a life that experiences greater ease, reduced fear and reduced anger, greater empathetic capacities, increased self-acceptance, increased capacities to handle whatever life may throw at you—and respond more resourcefully, and ultimately, leads to an aligned, purpose-filled and full-filled life.

As within, so without.

In recent history, it has become commonplace in personal development circles and communities for us to realize that our relationship to ourselves is very important—it is an accepted fact that it will determine a great deal of our experience materially, inter-personally, and emotionally. It may be thought of as self-concept, or self-esteem and self-acceptance, self-care, and self-love. This shows up in particularly high-relief/ particularly sharp in contrast in work with relationships where it is clear to more and more people (whether we like it or not) that our relationship with our self will determine our relationship dynamics with others: how well do we honor boundaries both for ourselves and for others? Do we feel we deserve to be happy and deserve to have a relationship in which we are treated well—with kindness and respect and love? How easily and openly do we communicate?

In essense: the degree of health we enjoy in our relationship with ourselves (and to our “self”) will have a great deal of influence on the degree of heath an vitality we enjoy in relationships with others—and life in general.

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