Defenses are Cues for Growth

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Mind has a tendency to construct a model of reality, which is largely just a crude representation of reality at it’s best. It’s this reality that we are all living in. We are living a lie narrated by our minds.

When mind gets confronted by something that threatens the reality, defense mechanisms kick in. First defense mechanism is denial. In fact for information we learn for the first time we outright dismiss, it has never happened to us before. Often to get even our attention, new things require repetition.

There are exception, in familiar and safe environments any changes in the environment gets right away our attention.

There seems to be a kind of filter of expectation. Our minds is at peace when everything goes as expected. Like a radio channel which plays the sort of music you are expecting. If something does not work as expected, your mind wakes up and starts to react.

We do not necessarily notice new elements in familiar kind of pop song only until much later on. This happens all the time. Our minds get enough of the familiar, so we do not even pay attention to the slight changes that have happened.

All this is natural and automatic. Consciously we can become aware and mindful about these and at key moments take a moment to consider what is going on. This is especially good practice when you notice defenses.

15 Common Defense Mechanisms is good place to start identifying which of these do you use most often and then to start practicing the more mature responses in situations.

Daily Practice

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Accumulative advantage comes through small actions each day. What are the virtues that you would like to one day posses?

How could you train that virtue everyday?

It’s through the daily practice that we grow wiser and are prepared for the day that we need such virtue.

It’s through meditation that we develop mindfulness.

It’s through reading and discussion that we learn to think.

It’s through practice that we learn to speak.

What are you practicing daily?

Personally I picked up this habit of contemplating on virtues through Daily Stoic. It’s addition to my journaling routine. I’ve noticed that it’s much more effective to recall and remember these virtues in cycles, rather than always seek new things.

How Does Your Day Actually Start?

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This morning this thought hit me among many others: what does the way our days start, tell about ourselves.

If there is need to hurry right in the morning, is it a healthy signal? On the other hand it is different thing to a stress and lose than make a strategic decision and win. I’ve found myself doing the latter and I don’t regret it at all.

I think it depends on the frame.

However, as a thought it’s good to do in fact the inventory of our mornings, how do they actually start and what do they tell about ourselves, to ourselves. We are influencing our own as well as wellbeing of many others the way we choose to do things.

And if we desire good, then we should make sure we are not self-sabotaging our purposes.

When reading about those who strive to do the most good, they may hurt themselves or the people closest to them in process. We become blind to some things, so therefore it’s good to stay mindful and do this kind of inventory every know and then.

Focus on Big Priorities and Withstand Imperfection on Small Priorities

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In life there are almost no things that are absolutely good or bad it always depends on the context. Good can turn into bad where bad can turn into good.

The more clearly we know what we want, the more we can start increasing such opportunities. As the number of opportunities increases, we have to start prioritizing our present moments. Then we may have great opportunities going on and at the same time have a cost of imperfection: we cannot do everything perfectly.

Therefore the ability to withstand the imperfection within the plentiful opportunities is a key to keep increasing opportunities. Without a risk, there is no reward. We just have to be really mindful for what we want and why.

We can have more and better opportunities the more we are willing to withstand the imperfection and uncertainty in life. All the great rewards eventually come from maintaining the most important and critical priorities.

Often focusing to the critical and most important priorities means that you are going to miss on small priorities, this is the cause of the imperfection. Yet as you know, your focus is in creating more plentiful opportunities. Your gains will be much higher than your losses, so what will happen over time? You will grow rich in areas of life you are practicing.

 

 

Whose Glass Do You Fill and In What Order?

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Even the best of intentions can do harm. Altruistic giver who gives always first away from even what little they have with all their energy and might will not end up serving any sustainable good cause.

To make the world flourish, we need to think in terms of sustainable giving. Sustainable giving starts with our selves: correct understanding, intention and speech. We need to learn to treat ourselves with compassion in order to benefit others with our actions.

I am not saying you cannot be beneficial to others before you have acquired such enlightenment, I am saying you should start each day by developing such understanding and mindfulness from where you are first aware of yourself, your limitations and capabilities.

Develop mindfulness and compassion towards life. Or as Ajahm Brahm says, develop kindfulness.

Start with yourself. Love yourself first, that’s the most important relationship you have.

Love is a verb.

Dr. Scott M. Peck defines love as “Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”

Love is about spiritual growth and we need to start from ourselves before we can start benefitting others. In practical terms this would mean every day we would need to prioritize ourselves first, in order to ensure the sustainability of our love for others as well.

When we ensure in the morning that our own spiritual growth needs are being taken care of, we can truly start benefiting others. That’s from where flourishing relationships and societies rise from: love which is spiritual growth.

Ignorance Everywhere

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Ignorance rises every morning when we wake up.

Therefore to we must start our inner work in the morning to be mindful about this ignorance. Simplest way to become mindful about the ignorance is to take a moment to reflect what are the most important events of the day, what virtues you need there and what could go wrong.

Today I began my commute by meditating and I realized it’s good to focus on what can go wrong but also what should go right.

We can only start the journey where we are. And we do not have accurate world views. The difference between what we think we are and how the world is, can be a shock at times. Sometimes it’s not because we were wrong, it’s because something has changed and our world view hasn’’t.

Living by the truth isn’t easy, however it’s the way to live by. Ignorance cannot stand the truth.

When we shed light to our ignorance, only the true understanding remains.

As we become more mindful about our ignorance, we will gain more accurate sense of the world. Yet world is every morning different than it was when we left it as was. Something has changed.

We are all ignorant, that’s the first step to become mindful about.

Resistance is a Growth Opportunity

 

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Resistance might mean resistance to change. However, the more we feel resistance the more potential we have to grow. It does not have to be in a leap, although it could be.

It’s only through resistance and challenge that we can grow from. If there is no resistance present, then we are not in position to learn much either. Too much comfort stunts the growth.

Therefore when we notice resistance to do something, we know we have a lot of potential for growth in that area. Most of the growth in the area can come from simple acknowledgement and opening up to possibilities.

With resistance comes often denial: we start to decline opportunities. What if we would say yes instead, what’s the worst thing that can come from learning and trying something new? You are likely to learn something.

Resistance is a kind of invitation to explore and grow. Instead of locking up with resistance, be mindful and acknowledging: see it as an opportunity to grow now or in near future 🙂

Let the Joy Be Seen and Heard

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Life is short, therefore we should live it joyfully and let the others be touched by the joy of living as well, so that we all may live happily. Joy is contagious.

I had the privilege to meet an enthusiast midwife, who told all kinds of stories from her profession. I admire and respect that profession, because they are at welcoming newborns into this world and working to make it as safe as possible. Often in such moments, one might whisper loving words into the ears of newborns and thus welcoming them to this world.

Each day should be celebrated with such love, hope and joy and soon as we can read this for example we can understand that although we shouldn’t focus blame or complain about other people not doing this, instead we should focus on instilling the joy of living into our lives and communicate that through our actions to others.

Joie de vivre, joy of living can be transferred into others through simple affirming smile or greeting for example. We can do this anywhere we go: work, bus or school for example. If you then add something positive and pleasant to the mix you will totally make someone’s day better.

Some of us cannot stand this positive talk, because they have a limiter in themselves that limits the amount of good feeling they allow themselves to feel. Gay Hendricks calls this the upper limit problem. We all have to work on our own upper limit problems, however by staying positive and happy you will certainly create more good to the environment than do bad.

You can become the example for joy of living in where ever you are at the moment. Enjoy the life you have now and let you be a positive voice and influence to the lives of many. Strengthen what is good and right in the world, if we do this, the life is unending chain of positive wishes even after it is all over 🙂

Do not listen (too much)

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For long time I used to think that listening is my strength.

Then I read a book[1]  and there was a note that perhaps listening too much is not so good idea. Not a good idea because there is a lots of all kinds of stories that we are playing over and over again and most of these stories we are playing unconsciously to others and to ourselves. Mostly we are unconscious about this, until either we or someone else makes us aware of this.

In everyday life our minds are too busy to become aware of ourselves, unless we set out to do deliberately through practices such as mindfulness, yoga or meditation.

The constant playback of the stories means we are being influenced and also influencing our environment in unexpected ways. To others listening, it means we are rather boring.

And to listen others too intently means also to allow those same stories to begin to play in our heads. That’s why it is better not to listen (too) seriously and too much.

 

[1] Sisäinen tuli by Jari Sarasvuo

Self-Help Signals

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I used to get easily annoyed by almost anything. In fact word “self-help” itself was a bit red alert for me. Yet I felt like this is exactly the time I need to use this word that I’ve almost banned from my dictionary.

This is so fun topic: the signals that we need to find in order to help ourselves.

Helping ourselves is the second best option, right after the fact that there might be someone who is more qualified to see what we really need. Self-help is almost the best option!

How do we know that we need self-help? I think understanding that we need to help ourselves and to accept this are the most difficult parts. Who would like to admit that they are insufficient? Who would, because we are not!

In fact we are masterpieces in construction and never to be completed. Life is an oscillation rather than linear start and finish point. However, it’s each day we must wake up and start to chisel at our masterpieces.

Have you ever wondered how do the masters know that their masterpieces are ready? I think there are several unfinished masterpieces of art out there in the exhibition.

In the same way, ourselves we are an unfinished masterpiece which we must ourselves work on each day. This is why we need self-help: it’s part of the cure, not the only cure. Rest of the cure comes from those who can see what we really need.

Good way to know if you need some self-help is that if you do not get any help from outside. So then you might need to help yourself a bit, so you can receive a bit from outside 😀

Have a great day!

Janne