Main Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life
Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your LifeGary John Bishop
Joining the ranks of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, You Are a Badas*, and F*ck Feelings comes this refreshing, BS-free, self-empowerment guide that offers an honest, no-nonsense, tough-love approach to help you move past self-imposed limitations.
Are you tired of feeling fu*ked up? If you are, Gary John Bishop has the answer. In this straightforward handbook, he gives you the tools and advice you need to demolish the slag weighing you down and become the truly unfu*ked version of yourself. ''Wake up to the miracle you are,'' he directs. ''Here's what you've forgotten: You're a fu*king miracle of being.'' It isn't other people that are standing in your way, it isn't even your circumstances that are blocking your ability to thrive, it's yourself and the negative self-talk you keep telling yourself.
In Unfu*k Yourself, Bishop leads you through a series of seven assertions:
I am willing.
I am wired to win.
I got this.
I embrace the uncertainty.
I am not my thoughts; I am what I do.
I am relentless.
I expect nothing and accept everything.
Lead the life you were meant to have—Unfu*k Yourself.
Are you tired of feeling fu*ked up? If you are, Gary John Bishop has the answer. In this straightforward handbook, he gives you the tools and advice you need to demolish the slag weighing you down and become the truly unfu*ked version of yourself. ''Wake up to the miracle you are,'' he directs. ''Here's what you've forgotten: You're a fu*king miracle of being.'' It isn't other people that are standing in your way, it isn't even your circumstances that are blocking your ability to thrive, it's yourself and the negative self-talk you keep telling yourself.
In Unfu*k Yourself, Bishop leads you through a series of seven assertions:
I am willing.
I am wired to win.
I got this.
I embrace the uncertainty.
I am not my thoughts; I am what I do.
I am relentless.
I expect nothing and accept everything.
Lead the life you were meant to have—Unfu*k Yourself.
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Chapter 6 “I am not my thoughts; I am what I do.” “The truth of it is, you are winning at the life you have.” “It’s this simple, in order to improve your internal world, you have to start by taking action in the external world. Get out of your mind, and get out into your life.” What if I told you that even when you think you’re losing in life, you’re actually winning? That everything that happens is really a victory? It’s true. And that’s not just some feel-good self-help mumbo jumbo or a sales line that I’m feeding you. You are a champion. You’ve knocked out goal after goal, cruising to an undefeated record. Everything you set your mind to comes true. You’re probably starting to think I’ve lost my mind or maybe even that you’ve lost yours! Perhaps you’re convinced I’m talking to someone else – anyone but you. Let me explain before we both end up like a couple of basket cases. Imagine this scenario: For what seems like all of your life you’ve been searching for love, that one special person to share your life with. But up to this point, it hasn’t happened. (Remember, this is an example, you can use any area of your own life where you have experienced being stuck in a cycle.) You’ve met people, had relationships, but all of them ended somewhere short of “forever.” You and “the one” just never materialized. The fairytale inevitably came to an end, often a very familiar kind of end. After a while, you start losing hope. You start to wonder whether you will ever meet the person of your dreams. Maybe you and relationships just aren’t meant to be? “Will anyone ever love me?” “Am I worthy of being loved?” “Why do I always seem to attract the same types of people?” You look back at your childhood, to times when you didn’t feel loved enough. Or periods of adolescence where you felt like an outsider or past relationships that played out like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day except with different players each time. So frustrating! Then one day, you meet someone. You go on a few dates and find out you really enjoy each other’s company. Things are coming along nicely as the days stretch into weeks and the weeks into months. Eventually that day comes where you can’t help yourselves – you exchange your first “I love you’s”. Not only are you in love, but you start to wonder, “Could they be ‘the one’?!” Could this be it? Wheeeeee!!! The bliss, excitement and possibility are invigorating and enlivening. At some point however the dark clouds of doubt start rolling in, it starts in small ways that grow first slowly and then all at once until the storm finally breaks loose. No sooner are you “in love” than you start to fall out, waaaaaaay out. The smallest things turn to arguments. The chemistry slowly evaporates until your relationship is a desert, barren and dry and you are left with the soul-destroying basics of just trying to get along. Ugh. Not again. At some point you both can see it’s not working – perhaps you reach a breaking point and have one (or a number) of those nasty fallings out. Maybe it just slowly dies until you eventually decide to pull the plug. Either way, you eventually go your separate ways. Oh well. You’re hurt, crushed but somehow resolute that eventually things will turn out for you. Someday. Except they did. Even though it may look and feel like a loss, this was in fact a glorious, resounding win. A victory from the Gods. HURRRAH! The truth of it is, you are winning at the life you have. What if I don’t want this life? Fine; but this is the one you’re currently winning at. BUILDING THE MYSTERY How could I possibly call a failed relationship a win? Well I’m not about to tell you how you’re better off without certain people in your life. I’m not going to assure you that you’re a special little snowflake who will find the perfect person “when you’re ready”. I’m not going to buy into the self-righteous bumper stickers and internet memes that tell you how great you are and that everyone else is the problem. You and I both know that when it comes down to it, that’s just not accurate. Nope. You won at that failed relationship because you achieved exactly what you set out to accomplish in the first place. From the very first “hello”. “But, but, but my partner wasn’t stepping up, THEY ruined it!” I got that but what if you sub-consciously picked that person in the first place? The kind of ideal character to re-create the same vignettes of life over and over and over? What if you are actually driven to prove the notion that no one will ever love you? What if it was planted there as a sub-conscious reaction to a turbulent childhood, bad breakups, or the like? And what if, with this pattern buried deep in your subconscious, you actively and deliberately undermined the success of your own relationship? You became sensitive to problems where there were apparently none. You started picking at, getting annoyed by and blowing up the tiniest of things. Over time you proved your point and the relationship reached its obvious, final and natural conclusion. What if this is what you have become wired to win at? You were convinced you weren’t worthy of a loving relationship, so you systematically set out to prove it and you succeeded. Congratulations! If you think this is starting to make you sound like a hopeless sado-masochist, don’t worry. There is a silver lining in all of this. You may not relate to the example I described above. Maybe you’re happily married to the love of your life. Or perhaps you’re beating off eligible suitors with a giant stick. Look at your own, “dark spots”, the parts of your life where you are most ineffective, where it seems like you have lost or are currently losing. You see, our thoughts are so powerful that they are constantly pushing you toward your goals, even when you don’t realize what those goals actually are! Your brain is wired to win. It doesn’t just apply to your relationships. This dynamic is at play in your career, your fitness, your finances and everything else you do. You are hard wired to win. That brings us to our next assertion: “I am wired to win”. You’re always winning because your brain is wired to. The trouble comes when what you really want—on a subconscious level—and what you say you want are different, sometimes radically so. RULER OF YOUR DOMAIN In his research, Dr. Bruce Lipton, the famous stem cell and DNA scientist, found that 95% of what we do in our day-to-day life is controlled by our sub-conscious. Think about that for a moment. That means that out of all the things you say or do, only a tiny fraction of them are with a true sense of volition. Think of all those times you lost track of time, drove home and couldn’t remember a single thing about the journey, or forgot what day it was. For the most part, you’re basically on autopilot, mindlessly gouging your way through life’s predictable muddy field. The path you follow through life is the one dictated by your deepest, most inconspicuous thoughts. Your brain is constantly pushing you along that path, whether it’s the one you would consciously choose to take or not. Can’t seem to increase your income? Can’t seem to lose weight? Have you considered the subconscious, concealed beliefs about your income and your weight that may be driving your action (or lack of it)? You automatically relate to yourself as belonging to a certain economic class, with a certain level of fitness, and your actions serve to keep you in place, right where you’re most familiar to yourself. I like to say that we win in domains or worlds. Let’s say you make $30,000 per year. That’s a domain. All of the planning, strategy and thinking you do to make that money constitute that domain. Believe it or not, it’s not necessarily any harder to make $60k than it is $30k. You may think it is, but that’s not an absolute. Whether you work for $25/hour or $50/hour, 40 hours of work is still 40 hours of actual work. While it’s important to identify what you’re at work on and whether you are being productive instead of just busy, sometimes it really is a question of getting yourself into another domain. How does one do that? Firstly, you have to uncover and realize the ways in which you have limited yourself. The kind of, “absolutes”, that you are currently unaware of. In short, the conclusions that you have come to about yourself, others and life itself. Those conclusions are the limit of your potential. It’s only when you have broken through those conclusions and can experience a life outside of your current existence that you start to understand the power of this phenomenon. While I appreciate that seems like an overly simplistic view of life, it’s a view that can open you up to whole other worlds of accomplishment although that’s a conversation for another time. In this instance, take the case that your life is split up into particular domains that you are existing in and winning at. The point is, you’re winning in whichever domain you are playing in. You’re wired to win in that domain. What it takes to move out of that domain is going to require some significant changes to your automatic. FIND YOUR WINNING EDGE Still not convinced? It’s time to turn the mirror on yourself and find out exactly where your wins are coming from. Look at your problem areas. Where in your life are you struggling most? Is it your career? Is it a negative habit? Is it your diet? Maybe you’re constantly putting off work until the last minute. You’ll wait and wait until you absolutely can’t wait any longer, then bust out the project once the pressure of a strict deadline is looming over you. We are always winning at proving something. In the case above, you win at proving either you have no time or that you are a procrastinator or a loser by getting things done at the very last minute. Or maybe it’s something else. The key here is to question yourself, look at your actions. What is the real point of all of this? What is it that you get to be right about when all is said and done? Just like I demonstrated in the opening example about romantic relationship, we hold a certain belief about ourselves or life that we prove right time and time again through our everyday actions. Those beliefs uncannily turn out to be deadly accurate in our reality. Spinning your wheels? What are you out to prove there? “I’m not worthy of love”, “I’m not smart”, “I’m a failure”, I’m not as capable as I used to be”. With these kinds of repeats stuck in your subconscious, is it any wonder that you are masterful in consistently proving them right? To succeed in another, more positive way, you’d have to prove those firmly held beliefs WRONG! For your persona, that’s a ground-shaking idea that is almost too much to bear. It would in fact unsettle the very foundations of who you have become! Many of my clients, I have found, have one particular thing in common: the subconscious desire to prove that their parents did a bad job raising them. This can manifest in so many different ways, some being worse than others. Some are subtle, others obvious, while all are very potent. You might try to prove that your parents failed to raise you well by treating your body like crap, getting arrested, becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, dropping out of school, consistently failing in relationships, chronic financial crises or any one of a number of seemingly random paths we get ourselves lost in. They can drop all the way down to simply being disconnected or lost in the pressures of work as an adult. All of these are real-life examples that some of my clients discovered about themselves that ultimately “proved” that one or both of their parents failed to do their job, that their experiences as children did not adequately prepare them for adulthood. This belief, conveniently, also allows for a ready-made explanation as to why they did what they did and why they, from time to time, acted like complete assholes to others in their life. Can you see ways in which you do this in your own life? Think of the problem areas in your life. Now think about them in terms of what you are winning at. What do you see there? If you’re struggling to get work done, perhaps you believe that you’re incapable or lazy. You prove that idea every single time you pause or procrastinate. You’re proving to yourself and others that you really are that person. Why do we do such things? We are survival machines and what better way to survive what’s to come than by re-living what has been, after all, it got you this far regardless of how bad or negative it has been. You have survived. Don’t limit yourself to the examples I’m giving. They’re just that: examples. You could be winning at something completely different. Take some time for introspection. If need be, write down the patterns you are seeing. Put the pieces of the jigsaw together. Maybe you had great parents but still find yourself incapable of committing to one person. Could it be because you believe your significant other couldn’t possibly live up to the example you were raised with? The point is we all have these items. Search out and connect all the different situations that came into play in your life. Take note of all the times you broke your promise to diet, save your money or speak your mind. Consider how many days you skipped the gym. Think about how you went to the mall instead of the bank. Pick one and see if you can discover the “win”.The amount of times you argued or lost your temper when you know you shouldn’t have. What is it all pointing to? Whatever the domain you’re winning in, you’ll start to realize something – you’re really good at it. You can avoid those dirty dishes in the sink for days. You’ll use every plate, cup, and piece of silverware in the house and then you start getting creative until you’re eating cereal out of a handy Tupperware container using a wooden baking spoon. Holy crap, a life hack, take a picture and get it on your Pinterest page! It’s actually rather impressive in a weird kind of way. Once you’ve taken the time to analyze your own life through this lens, you’ll start to see that what I’m saying is true. You really are wired to win. You really can (and do) achieve the things you set your mind to. The Stoic philosopher Seneca once said, “It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable”. Right now, your mind is unconquerable when it comes to proving that you’re not worthy of love, that you’re lazy, or that you’ll always be out of shape or never have any money. But if we change our thinking a little, we can use our mind’s unconquerable nature to act on all the positive goals and dreams we hold for ourselves. We are wired to win – we just have to point ourselves in the right direction so we can win at something we consciously choose. CREATING A GAME PLAN “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. Therefore, guard accordingly, and take that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” - Marcus Aurelius We’ve talked about the enormous role our sub-conscious plays in everything we do. Even if we consciously made the right decisions at every opportunity, it would still only account for a fraction of our daily life. The personal assertion, “I am wired to win”, will support you in realizing how truly powerful you and your mind are. But you still need a game plan. That means we have to start filling our “bucket” with the right ideas. Here’s a good way to start. Think about the thing or things you’d like to change in your life. They could be related to the problem areas you looked at earlier, or they could be something completely different. Where would you really like to see progress? What do you really want to accomplish? Take that goal and break it down. What exact steps do you need to take to achieve it? What are the mile markers you need to set out to identify your progress? If you want to lose weight, think about how you’ll need to change your diet, get more exercise and generally adopt more healthful, nurturing habits. Go through the daily kind of actions you’ll need to practice. Get it in reality. Don’t stop there. Consider the changes in mindset you’ll need to make during and after your quest to become more fit. You have to be relentless in the pursuit of your goal, particularly when those automatic past-based conversations start to become louder in your head. Once you’ve faced your problems head on, how will your sense of self change? When you’re the fit and healthy person you want to be, how will your beliefs about yourself be different? What will that life look like? I would warn against the idea that you’ll suddenly be awesome. Your future is not the answer to your present. As we’ve discussed, subconscious thoughts are deeply ingrained in your psyche, so it can take a lot of thinking, imagination, and commitment to transform these invisible yet powerful thoughts into ones that better align with your stated goals. As with every page here, make the time to take your time. If you look at the problem areas you came up with before, you might be able to connect to an emotionally charged event somewhere in your life that helped set them in your mind, perhaps in the form of infidelity in a relationship, childhood bullying, parents that never quite lived up to your wants and needs, public embarrassment, or major career failures. But the more you think about your future and what you really want to accomplish, the deeper those thought processes will work their ways into our mind and take hold. Remember, when you explore and discover what it is you’ve really been winning at, it’s not about fighting against or resisting those thoughts and actions but rather changing direction and setting yourself new goals and outcomes. This must be the kind of work that raises your awareness and throws up red flags for when you are getting off course. The better you understand your patterns the better shot you have in altering them. When you have set out the goals that you are claiming as yours in life and, more importantly, relentlessly taking the actions to produce, it’s only a matter of when. We are wired to win. You are wired to win. Define your game, embrace the challenge and strive to understand yourself in deeper and more meaningful ways. True understanding of yourself and your personal constraints allows for ever-unfolding degrees of freedom and success. The more aware you become of your hard wiring, the more space and opportunity become available in those areas. Step out there. Trust yourself, give yourself fully to your vast capacity for victory. Set yourself the challenge of winning in new and exciting ways. Demand your greatness of yourself and repeat after me: “I am wired to win”. “Uncertainty is where new happens.” “Our biggest successes are born out of discomfort, uncertainty, and risk.” Chapter 7 “I am relentless.” “Stop doing all that shit you know you shouldn’t be doing and start doing all the shit you know you should be doing.” Firstly, do not be deceived by the title of this chapter. There is something truly amazing for you to discover in the following pages. Imagine this. You’ve always dreamed of starting your own business—being your own boss, controlling your own schedule and really building something you can be proud of, something you can point to as a major life accomplishment. Through a combination of hard work, determination and solid planning, you’ve managed to organize your life in such a way that this dream of yours can now become a reality. You’ve already come up with a great business idea, hired a company to create a cool logo and branding and now it’s time to get to work. Here’s where the fun begins… You’ll need a store, of course. And that’s the first task you tackle, spending the next week driving around town, scouting locations and negotiating with real estate agents. It’s not easy, but you finally find what you think is a pretty good location, for a pretty good price. There was another place you really had your eye on, but you couldn’t make it work within the budget. There’s a few other things to get taken care of, like property insurance, a business license, and setting up your taxes. Even though you’ve yet to make a dollar, you’ve already had to hire an accountant to help you sort through those complicated business taxes. Oh well, on to the next project. Your store will need furniture and other necessary equipment, so you shop around to get a rate on that. Another thing off the checklist. Obviously you’ll need someone to work there, too. Time to hire some employees. Check. It’s all going pretty well until…BOOM! That deal you had fought for and ground out to secure the unique product you were planning to sell fell through and now you have to look for alternatives. SHIT! Your heart sinks and breathing shallows as you frantically search out wholesalers, importers, manufacturers—anyone who can help—and start asking for quotes. The only problem is; the new prices you’re being quoted are way beyond your pricing model. How can you make this thing work? You tirelessly continue searching but keep coming up zero after zero after zero. This is fast becoming a disaster! You’ve already invested massive amounts of time and resources into this and now you’ve hit a big fat road block. You’re realizing now that you should have seen this coming. This is business; stuff is bound to go wrong. The cascading stream of doubt and second-guessing washes through your brain with a heavy rinse cycle of reality. “Dammit this was going too smoothly; I just knew something like this would happen!!” This feeling builds and grows until it starts to pull you under. Setting up a business means risking everything you’ve ever worked for. Is it even worth it? You’ve got bills for the love of God! Now that you really think about it, you’ve spent more time working on this project than you did at your last job. A LOT more. I mean come on, it’s been day and night with hardly a breath. You have less control of your time than you ever did before. Your every thought, second and dollar has been geared toward this thing. Why did you ever think it was better to work for yourself? This isn’t what you signed up for, is it? Maybe this whole thing was a mistake. You’re starting to feel a little darker and more depressed while you start to confront the gut-churning possibility that you might lose all that investment and wind up having to crawl back to your old boss to ask if you can return to your old job. WHOOOAAAAA!!!!! Easy tiger! Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a step back. EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED What’s really going on here? It’s simple. You, like everybody else, are weighed down by expectation. I’m not talking about the usual kind of everyday expectations you’re aware of. It’s also not like we’re literally saying to ourselves, “I expect this” or “I expected that” in a conscious way. It’s something that’s happening just below the surface, where you’ll only see it if you take the time to look closely. No, I’m talking about the ugly, undermining, hidden and treacherous expectations that dwell in the wings and under the stage of your Broadway blockbuster. The kind of expectations you didn’t even know you had until they came out of nowhere and blindsided you and sucked the air from your lungs. When you and I take on a life-changing project, we prepare for it from what we know. That includes items from our own experience, what we’ve read, heard and imagined. We start to picture it in our minds. We research, we ask others for their opinions, and consume reams of information. We begin to assemble an idea of what this will look like and how we’re going to get there. That image in our heads becomes the template from which we work and plan. What we don’t see is that we’re also setting up a world of hidden expectations—the cracks and crevices hidden in the foundation of our best-laid plans that can kill off a potential idea before it really gets going. In our business example, our budding entrepreneur “didn’t expect” to lose his deal for product and while losing that deal was bad enough, the interruption to his expectation was actually the biggest blow to his aspirations. How do you know if you have hidden expectations in your life? If you have places in your life where you experience disappointment, resentment, regret, suppression, anger, lethargy, essentially anywhere you are deflated or have some loss of your personal chutzpah or any other suppressive emotion, you have these expectations. Any place where you’re just not yourself, if you look at these places long enough, you’ll see the reality of that area of your life is some way short of the scenario you had anticipated in your mind’s eye. If you have upset in your marriage, you’ll see a gap between your expectation between how is was “supposed” to be and how it in fact is. For others it might be your finances, your weight loss, new job, etc. Your powerlessness is directly correlated to the gap between your hidden expectations and your reality. The greater the gap, the worse you’ll actually feel. I read somewhere that the root cause of upset in marriage is unmet expectation. I think it goes out further, much further. I say the problem is expectation itself. I contend that the upsets strewn throughout your entire life are a product of thousands of unspoken or unrecognized expectations that cast a giant shadow across your life experience; causing great stress when you’re trying to make life fit with your expectations and great disappointment when life doesn’t match up to them. Here’s what else they do, they actually get in the way of our real lives, our real issues and items that require attention. They are like a mirage that diverts us from our genuine power and clouds our ability to take pronounced, decisive action. In short, you end up working on your expectations and having life line up with them rather than taking the actions that would positively impact your situation. This “sidetracking” draws all of your power away from what’s actually going to improve your life or accomplish your goal, down a pathway of no power, no results and wasted time. CUTTING OUT THE MIDDLE MAN OF EXPECTATION Now that we’ve busted our problems with expectations wide open, you’ll start to realize something. And that’s that many of the difficulties and complications in your life are the direct result of expectations that you have or have had. We’ve been using an example of a business plan gone wrong, but, in your own life, your failed relationships, dissatisfaction with work, and abandoned diets can be traced right back to expectation. How many times have you said to yourself, “This isn’t how I thought it would be”? What about the last time you were angry with someone? Can you remember it? Take a moment to examine that situation, and you’ll soon realize that your anger was a product of expectations. The gap between how it is and how it should have been. You harbor an unspoken expectation that people in your life will be agreeable, you expect them to tell the truth, and follow through on any agreements you have with them. Expect, expect, expect. And when they don’t match those expectations? Oh boy! “This is all great and good, Mr. Scottish-man but how in the hell do I uncover my hidden expectations?” Easy. Pick an area of your life in which things aren’t going as well as you’d like them to, maybe even somewhere in your life that sucks right now. Take a pen and piece of paper and write out how that area was “supposed” to turn out. How had you planned it? How should have this gone? You might have to use your imagination and sense of wonder to get in touch with how the future looked from back there. Get in touch with the hope and positivity of that area and where it was supposed to head. Describe it in as much detail as you can possible recall. Next, on a separate piece of paper, write down how this area actually looks. Again, make this an exhaustive description not just “it sucks”. Get into detail about why it is the way it is and what you now have to deal with. How do you feel now that this part of your life did not meet your expectations? Now, look at both pieces of paper side by side. Your pain, anguish, disappointment (or whatever your thing is), is greater in the areas where the gap is widest between what you expected and what you actually have. In there are your hidden expectations. Do the work here until you fully uncover the expectations you had inadvertently set yourself up for. Good, now look again. In what way does how you feel about this make a difference to your reality? Does it make it any better? Does it solve your issue? Hell no, it makes no positive difference whatso-freakin-ever! It even makes it WORSE! Your problems don’t derail you, your hidden expectations do! The point here is that the “expectation” of how life should be doesn’t do you any good. You’re actually more winded by the whack your expectations took than the situation itself and that’s the deal with expectations, they blow things out of proportion and dilute your power to deal with issues effectively and powerfully. Listen, it’s not like I’m saying something radically new here, the notion of “letting go” of expectations has been around for thousands of years although in our culture (that of the West), it’s a practice very few engage in. Here’s the coaching – CUT IT OUT! Let go of those expectations NOW! It’s much more powerful to come to terms with life’s unpredictability and to engage with your circumstances for what they actually are than get bogged down by your refusal to let go of unnecessary or unproductive expectations. The world revolves around change. Birth and death, growth and destruction, rise and fall, summer and winter. It’s never the same from one day to another no matter how much it might seem that it is. “No man ever steps in the same river twice...” - Heraclitus Our minds would love to predict and plan for everything that’s going to happen. But it’s simply not possible. And these expectations not only have a negative effect on our emotional state, they actually leave us less powerful than we really could be. It’s so much more effective to simply take things as they present themselves, to live in the moment (like there’s another moment you could live in), and solve issues and items as they arise, than to constantly expect. It’s not that I’m anti-planning, (I most certainly am not), but the stone-cold attachment to the plan, (and all the expectation therein), is a little like falling out of a row-boat and continuing to row even though you have no oars and no boat under you anymore. Your plan (and image) of how this should have gone is no longer relevant but yet you still struggle to reconcile the space between your expectations and reality. Life can be like that at times. On some occasions you have to realize that the game has changed (sometimes dramatically so) and you need to pivot. Deal with your reality. Wake up, you’re in the water. Stop waving your arms about and paddle to shore dammit! LIFE IS MORE OF A DANCE THAN A MARCH Our mind has all kinds of automatic thought processes that we don’t even know are going on. Expectations are just one of them, albeit an important one. Here’s the harsh truth about how our brain works. We all like to believe in something called “free will”. It’s one of those concepts that really speaks to who we are as human beings. I mean, let’s be honest, if we don’t have free will, what in the hell do we have? We value the notion that we freely choose what we do, and when to do it. We want to feel that we control our own fate and shape our own destiny. But when our minds are ruled by these automatic thought processes, do we really have free will? Many would argue that we don’t. Listen, here’s how much free will you have – stop doing all that shit you know you shouldn’t be doing and start doing all the shit you know you should be doing. All of it. This free will stuff isn’t so easy now is it!? “No man is free who is not master of himself.” - Epictetus Because, as we’ve talked about throughout this book, even when you feel yourself making a conscious decision, there are a series of unconscious thought processes that are driving that choice. Things you don’t even see or acknowledge. People are much more irrational and illogical than we realize. In many cases, our subconscious is the puppet master that truly pulls the strings. Fortunately, you can take back your freedom to choose. And that’s by understanding how your mind works, seeing what it’s doing as it does it, and being able to use that information to cognitively choose something else. To make conscious that which is currently unconscious. Expectations are just one of these things. WHEN LIFE IS APPROPRIATE “I expect nothing and accept everything.” This is your final personal assertion. Let me get clear about this one. This is not some meek, weak, submission to life. No, this is the statement of a masterful celebrant of success, someone who cannot be dominated by anyone or anything. When you expect nothing, you’re living in the moment. You’re not worrying about the future or rejecting the past. You’re simply embracing your situation as it comes. When you accept everything, that doesn’t mean you are ok with it or that you agree with it, but simply that you are owning it and in charge of it. Remember you can always change something when you can take ownership and responsibility for it. Sometimes it’s the single most effective way of resolving your “stuff.” Own it! “Don’t seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and all will be well with you.” - Epictetus The next time you catch yourself getting brought down by your expectations, shift things in a different direction. Instead of getting your knickers in a twist about how things didn’t turn out the way you wanted or expected them to, simply accept them for what they are. In that moment you are now freed up to deal with them. “This is appropriate.” When you’re having growing pains at your new job, take a step back and realize how appropriate that really is. Of course a new job is going to take some getting used to, whether it’s the tasks you’re performing or the people you work with. It’s therefore entirely appropriate to make a few mistakes or tread carefully as you try to get to know your new colleagues. The expectations dissolve right there, immediately. If your relationship is struggling, change your perspective and get the whole picture. What are your expectations? Many of us expect our partners to be a certain way consistently, or to anticipate our needs and know exactly what we’re feeling, as if by magic. But your partner, like you, is an imperfect human with his or her own set of complicated emotions and thoughts. So it’s appropriate that they may sometimes be distracted or get short with you after a bad day. We often expect other people to treat us exactly as we treat them. If we do them a favor, we expect to get the same favor back in return. It becomes an unspoken “debt” of sorts. When we give our partner a foot massage, we expect them to reciprocate either directly or indirectly. Those expectations grow both in weight and complexity in an intimate or romantic relationship. You won’t believe how much your interactions with other people will improve the moment you let go of expecting, the instant you learn to accept things as they happen. Again, this doesn’t mean you need to put up with shitty or abusive relationships. But the only thing more unpredictable than one person is two unpredictable people. If you are in one of those kinds of relationships, it’s time for you to invoke the boat analogy. Stop rowing, the game has changed, shift your plan. Your partners, friends, and family members all have their own desires, perceptions, and feelings. While you’re thinking one thing, they’re more than likely thinking something completely different. That thing that’s got you feeling pissed may not have even registered on their radar. They could be completely oblivious to what’s going on with you. Instead of silently expecting something and feeling slighted when it doesn’t happen, let go of that expectation. If there’s something you want, how about asking for it with no expectation? And when you do something positive or generous, do it because you genuinely want to rather than loading in the added weight of what you expect in return. That game of tit for tat only hurts you both in the long run. If it’s something serious that consistently challenges the relationship, confront the other party about it. Don’t expect them to realize how you feel or, by the same token, expect them to be able to change how you feel. They can’t. Only you can do that. People are always going to lie, steal, cheat, and everything else one can imagine. It’s just not connected to reality to live in the expectation that they somehow won’t and then throw a hissy fit when they do it anyway. Remember, in those cases, you always end up worse off than they do! Much worse! You end up sticking yourself with resentment, regret, anger or frustration. Remember, they’re not doing that to you, you’re doing that part to yourself! You really can accept things for what they are. It doesn’t mean you condone them or that you won’t decisively change them, this is about becoming masterful with your mind and your emotional state. It’s about quieting the mind and allowing yourself to act with power in the situations of your life rather than succumbing to your internal and external upsets. EXPECT NOTHING, ACCEPT EVERYTHING None of this means you can’t plan, or that I’m telling you to walk through life aimlessly without direction or goals. But when you make a plan, what do you have to gain from being welded to the expectations inherent in it? Nothing. When you are free from its expectations you are “in a dance” with life where you can simply execute the plan, and deal with what happens. If it succeeds, you can celebrate. If it fails, you can re-calibrate. Don’t expect victory or defeat. Plan for victory, learn from defeat. The expectation of people loving you or respecting you or a pointless exercise too. Be free to love them the way they are and be loved the way that they love you. Free yourself from the burden and melodrama of expectation, let the chips fall where they may. Love the life you have, not the one you expected to have. “I expect nothing and accept everything.” This simple personal assertion gets you out of your head and powerfully into your life, out of your thoughts and into your reality. Problems, barriers, disagreements and disappointments are all part of every human beings’ life. Your job is to not get caught up in that crap, to stay out of the swamp of mediocrity and drama, to reach for your greatest self, your greatest potential and to challenge yourself to live that life every single day of it. Your life, your success, your happiness, really is in your own hands. The power to change, the power to let go, be adventurous and embrace your potential all lies within your reach. Remember, no one can save you, no one can shift you, all of that is your responsibility and what better time to embrace that change than now? Chapter 1 In the beginning… Unfu*k Yourself Get out of your head and into your life. GARY JOHN BISHOP You’re an addict. You’re out of control and so dependent on your drug of choice, you don’t even realize how it’s affecting your life. You have a gnawing craving and that craving is for prediction. Will it rain tomorrow? How will my stock perform? Who will win the Super Bowl? You’re constantly looking ahead, trying to figure out what’s going to happen before it actually does. Why? Certainty. We seek the certain and avoid the uncertain. We want to know what to expect, where to go, and what to wear. We want to be prepared. We want to be safe. It’s far beyond a want though, it’s more like that addiction. We’re sizing people up before we even know them, predicting their character in seconds. We buy goods and brand names we’re used to even though there are plenty of alternatives. We take supplements and vitamins to prevent an illness we don’t yet have, date people for months, sometimes years, to make sure of our future, to make sure that it turns out in a way that we can predict. Give me that certainty, certainty, certainty!! We all know the bumper stickers and internet memes that praise risk takers and urge us to embrace uncertainty. We even know that our openness to taking risks directly correlates with our potential for fortune and possibility, yet many of us still stay inside our own little organized, certain world. And there’s a reason for that. Until fairly recently, the world was a much scarier place for the likes of you and I. Every step into the unknown was a dance with death. Life was one big game of Russian roulette. Literally every day, you and every other being on the face of the earth would have been an entrée on the dinner menu for an assortment of beasts and creatures or among the poor suckers that walked blindly into the path of Mother Nature’s dark sense of humor. Lucky for us, the world isn’t nearly as scary as it was thousands of years ago (although not quite a utopian safe-zone). Life has become much safer, unbelievably so, in fact. Medicine and technology get better by the day; Violent crime, although rampant in our news outlets, is in fact a rarity in the everyday life of your average citizen in a Western country. Sure, there are still deadly diseases and the threat of random acts of violence or catastrophe, but the chances of you catching a mystery zombie virus or being swept up with Dorothy and Toto to a fantastical Hollywood dreamland are, I’m happy to say, slim. Here’s some other startling news: chances are you’re not going to suddenly die on the way to the grocery store, your boss isn’t actually going to kill you if you ask for a raise and, believe it or not, asking someone out will not result in your pants mysteriously falling to the floor, painfully exposing your SpongeBob SquarePants underwear and bringing about your early demise via acute terminal embarrassment with the insidious laughter of everyone in Starbucks ringing in your ears as you depart this mortal coil. In other words, our aversion to risk, which was once necessary, no longer is. Those same survival instincts that once kept us alive can now be the very thing that keeps us from actually living. A PARADIGM OF POTENTIAL Our obsession with certainty can be tragic and counterproductive for two reasons. First, uncertainty is where things happen. Uncertainty is your personal pathway to opportunity. It’s the environment in which you grow, experience new things and produce new, unprecedented results. Uncertainty is where new happens. “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise” - Tacitus When you stick to what you’re comfortable with, doing the same things you’ve always done, you’re in effect living in the past – not moving forward. You’re repeating things and behaviors that, at one time in your life were risky since you didn’t know what they would lead to, but have since turned into routine. Think about it: How can you go to new places if you never leave the house? How can you make friends and start romances without meeting new people? How can you do anything new by doing what you’ve always done? You can’t. The truth is you can’t even predict what the people you know will do, let alone the people you don’t know. Whether it’s the checkout line or a night club or the bank, social situations are inevitably filled with uncertainty. Jeez, half of the time you can’t even predict your own thoughts and feelings! Think of the many times you’ve rushed to judge and then later changed your mind. How will you ever get a raise if you don’t take the risk of asking? How will you get ahead in your career if you’re always holding on to certainty and comfort? You won’t. Success is never certain. It never comes without risk. Even if you’re the smartest or the hardest working, there’s no guarantee of anything. The people who go on to do great things in their lives know this. They also embrace it. “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing” - Theodore Roosevelt Reflect on that Teddy Roosevelt quote for a minute here. Missing the target isn’t the worst thing you can do. Not taking the shot is. You may look at successful people and think they’ve always had it figured out. Many of them seem to have a kind of confidence, charisma or talent that makes everything they do seem easy. They certainly seem to have something you don’t, but believe me, their rise to the top was anything but certain or easy. Most of them doubted it every single day, sometimes hundreds of times per day. That’s right, they sat there, just like you are right now, wondering how they would make it, whether it was all worthwhile or whether they had what it takes. There were days when they doubted what they were doing. Where they thought, “this is never going to work”. Many found themselves on the verge of giving up at numerous occasions along the way. They didn’t succeed because they were certain they were going to succeed; They succeeded because they didn’t let uncertainty stop them. They did it anyway. They ignored their doubts and kept pushing forward. They were relentless when the only thing they had to fuel them was relentlessness. Give some thought to all the people who have achieved something great, only to quickly fade into obscurity. I’m sure you can think of a few, whether they’re entertainers or business people or athletes. In my career I’ve coached many “successful” people who came to me because their lives had gone flat, and they had become uninspired and tepid. What happened? For many of them, they got comfortable. For years, they had pushed their comfort zones to get where they wanted to be. But as soon as they chose certainty over uncertainty, they stopped achieving. They hit the wall. Why does it happen? Because when you’ve accomplished one of your goals, when you’re rich and successful, the future naturally seems a little more certain. I’m sure we’d all feel a little more secure with a million bucks or so in the bank. But that mindset shift is exactly what creates the environment for our ultimate undoing. When we’re no longer uncertain about money, the desire—the need even—to pursue it recedes. When we’re no longer uncertain about success, our ambition can blunt or mellow. We get to wallow in our bloated illusion of certainty. Eventually we get to do that thing called, “settle”. We settle for certainty. That’s the kind of power that uncertainty has in our lives. It can make us or break us. It can make us rich or make us poor. It can be the key to our success or drive us in the other direction. For many people, it ends up being both. CHASING WHAT DOESN’T EXIST The funny thing is, no matter how much you chase certainty, you’ll never really be able to hold it or retain it. That’s because it doesn’t exist. The universe will always send us little reminders of its chaos and power, and no one is exempt from the prompting. Nothing is certain. You could go to sleep tonight and never wake up. You could get in your car and never make it to work. Certainty is a complete illusion. Voodoo. Some of you might find this terrible to think about, but it’s true. No matter how hard we may try, we can never predict exactly what life will bring. Our plans will falter at some point eventually. By running from uncertainty in search of certainty, we’re actually rejecting the one thing in life that is guaranteed in favor of something that’s nothing more than a fantasy. “All I know,” Socrates once said, “is that I know nothing.” Many wise people understand this. In fact, they owe their wisdom to that very realization – that they don’t actually know a damn thing. Because when we think we know everything, we inadvertently turn ourselves away from the unknown and, by default, whole new realms of success. The person who accepts how unpredictable and uncertain life is has no choice but to embrace it. They’re not afraid of the uncertain; It’s just a part of life. They don’t seek out certainty because they know it doesn’t really exist. They are also the kind of people who are aware of and open to the real magic and miracles of life and what can be accomplished. One of the pillars of philosophy is the examination of how we know what we know. How can we prove that what we believe is true? In most cases, we can’t. In reality, even many of the things we think of as hard facts aren’t. They’re half-truths. They’re assumptions. They’re misinterpretations. They’re guesses. They’re based on cognitive biases, faulty information, or conditioning. Use science as an example. What we believed 5, 10 or 20 years ago has since been disproved. We have made radical leaps in understanding and those leaps are continuing every day. What we know today will one day be looked upon as archaic and outdated. Consider those same limits of understanding are everywhere in your life. If we can’t even be certain about what we “know” today, how can we know what will happen tomorrow? As you’ve probably noticed, when you do try to stay in your comfort zone, you never truly feel comfortable. There’s always that nagging feeling that you could be doing more. There’s always that desire for a life that’s better than the one you have now. The more we try to stay comfortable today, the more uncomfortable we’ll be tomorrow. There really is no destination, there is only exploring, exploring and exploring. STEP FORWARD AND BE JUDGED Like plenty of other things in our lives, part of our aversion to uncertainty comes from our fear of being judged by others. We are, in a very real way, afraid of what the tribe thinks and the prospect of being thrown out into the mystery and uncertainty of the wild. If we put ourselves in uncomfortable situations, maybe we’ll look awkward. People will think we’re “weird”. If we push our limits and try to achieve new things, maybe we’ll fail. People will think we’re a “failure”. “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid” - Epictetus You’re never going achieve your true potential if you’re hooked by what other people think. In fact, you could change your life overnight if you simply abandoned the notion that other people’s opinions matter. Life goes on, opinion-heavy or opinion-lite. That doesn’t mean you should go off and become a brazen sociopath and completely disregard what others think. But if you want to win, you have to be willing to be judged by others and not let it get to you. If you want to do something truly great, you’ll have to accept that some people are going to think you’re delusional or an idiot or righteous. The person who avoids the uncertain doesn’t do this. They’re too afraid of being judged. They’re too afraid to look foolish or stupid. They are stopped, one foot nailed to the floor by an illusion. EMBRACING THE UNCERTAIN This can all come as quite a shock. Some of you are probably squirming in your chair as you read this. That’s because you’re rejecting and avoiding uncertainty. You’re afraid of it. You’re trying to control and know things that you simply can’t know or control. You’re caught up the La-La land that we are all born into and can never quite seem to get out of. The good news is; it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why I want you to shift your thinking. Embrace the uncertainty. That’s your personal assertion: “I embrace the uncertainty”. Meet it head on. Cherish it. Enjoy it. Remember, all of the successes, all of the experiences, all of the things you’ve always dreamed of are waiting for you in uncertainty. Once you accept this, it’s not as scary as before. Sure, you might still be nervous about what will happen, but you’ll also be hopeful and excited at the prospect of what may come. While the unknown can hold plenty of bad things, it also holds everything good as well. It’s overflowing with opportunity and progress. I challenge you to go out today and take the bull by the horns and embrace your own uncertainty. Do the things you normally wouldn’t. Shake up that daily routine. Dare to dream, dare to risk and startle your life into life. Start with simple things. Take a different route to work. Instead of bringing your lunch or eating at the same few places, try somewhere you’ve never been. Start a conversation with the waiter or cashier. Smile and say hello to the people you pass on the street, or give them a friendly nod. Talk to that girl or guy who caught your eye. Or maybe you’re a natural extrovert who does all of that already. What are the things that make you uncomfortable? What are the things you’d like to do but avoid because of uncertainty? Do them. Starting now. There’s no better time than this moment. Develop and grow that muscle to be with the uncertain in life. To be with the glory of life itself, unconstrained by your own limits and opinions. Don’t stop there. Instead of simply stretching our comfort zones, let’s blow the thing up completely. Try acting in a way you’d never think about acting. Doing something completely out of character would be a great start. Embrace that uncertainty and strike a blow for your future! OPPORTUNITY HUNTING Embracing uncertainty has the power to transform your life, from your personal relationships to your career. It can help you get in shape, make more money, or find your future spouse. You’ll no longer be hiding from life, you’ll be living it, drinking from it and enlivened by it. When you stop searching for certainty, when you quit trying to make sense of everything, a lot of your stress will simply melt away. There really is nothing to figure out. If you took the time to be with what I’m saying, you’d realize that what causes most of your worry is trying to predict the future and then refusing to accept things when they don’t or aren’t going to go your way. Life is an adventure. It’s absolutely filled with opportunity. But it’s up to you to embrace those opportunities fully and completely in all of their majestic, unnerving and invigorating uncertainty. Focus on the things you can control and release yourself from worrying about what you can’t, like the weather, the Dow Jones, or what your neighbor thinks about your haircut. “I embrace the uncertainty.” This one simple statement can completely change the way you live, moment to moment to moment. The only thing that’s guaranteed in life is that it’s uncertain. The only thing we know is that we know nothing. Go ahead, say it, embrace it: “I embrace the uncertainty”. “Everyone has their problems, and life isn’t always perfect. It never will be.” You have the life you’re willing to put up with. Think about it. What are the problems, those heinous, dark shadows currently spoiling the warmth and happiness of your otherwise blissful life? Do you hate your job? Are you in a bad relationship? Is there something wrong with your health? Fine, get a new job. End the relationship. Change your diet and exercise or locate the kind of help you need. Seems simple doesn’t it? Even the things you seemingly had no say in, like the death of a loved one or losing your business, you have a MASSIVE say in the ways you live your life in the aftermath of those events. If you’re not willing to take the actions to change your situation – in other words, if you’re willing to put up with your situation – then whether you like it or not, that is the life you have chosen. Before you think “but...” or start to get your knickers in a twist…let me say one more thing: By defending your circumstances as they are right now, you are actually making a case for being where you are. Give it up. No buts. You can’t afford them. They’re excess baggage on a trip that requires you to travel light. “Circumstances don’t make the man; they only reveal him to himself.” - Epictetus As Epictetus points to, the true measure of who you are won’t be found in your circumstances but rather the way in which you respond to them. To start this new process, you must first stop another one. Stop blaming luck. Stop blaming other people. Stop pointing to outside influences or circumstances. Stop blaming your childhood or neighborhood. This approach is fundamental to everything that I talk about in these pages. You cannot, I repeat CANNOT dwell in any blame game in your life. Even blaming yourself is completely useless. Of course you’ll face situations that you seemingly can’t control. You may even face tragic circumstances, like disability, disease, or the death of a loved one. But there is always something you can do to impact those circumstances even if you’ve had them for years and still can’t see a way. But first, you must be willing. To fully embrace my approach, you must first accept that while there are things have happened in your life that you had no say in, you are 100% responsible for what you do with your life in the aftermath of those events. Always, every time, no excuses. The dictionary describes willingness as – “The quality or state of being prepared: Readiness”. In other words, willingness is a state in which we can engage with life and see a situation from a new perspective. It starts with you and ends with you. No one can make you willing, and you cannot move forward until you really are willing to make the next move. When you are finally willing, you can literally experience that willingness, that innate freedom that courses through your veins and similarly when you are not, the kind of primordial stuck-ness that halts, and presses down on you like some invisible weight on your chest. Believe me, I hear you, “I am willing but...”. Every time you add the “but” to the end of that statement, you turn yourself into the victim. In my many years as a coach and mentor, I have heard as many complex life situations as there are, from the darkest of pasts to the weight and gravity of the present or crippling fear of the future, I have heard them over and over and over again. You have to hear what I am saying in the way that it’s intended. I’m not saying these things to inflame you, well, maybe I am but the intention is to inflame you to your own potential, to realize your own greatness, not just to piss you off! Take the case, imagine for a moment, that willingness is missing in your life. Not some wispy, sheepish willingness but rather a bold willingness, the kind of willing state where you are ready for what’s next and ready to act on it. Willingness to change, willingness to let go, willingness to accept. Real, magical, inspired willingness. FINDING THE DOOR “Fate leads the willing and drags along the reluctant” - Seneca Either you control your destiny, or your destiny will control you. Life won’t stop for your pauses and procrastinations. It won’t stop for your confusion or fear. It will continue right along without you. Whether you play an active part or not, the show will go on. That’s why one of the first personal assertions I teach to my clients is: “I am willing”. Before you can say that to yourself honestly, you must first ask yourself the question is, “Am I willing?” That question demands an answer. It can’t just be left there in the nothingness of the universe. Am I willing? It pulls for a response. Am I willing? Its power is irresistible; I cannot escape its press for truth. Am I willing to go to the gym? Am I willing to work on that project I’ve been putting off? Am I willing to face my social fears? Am I willing to ask for a raise or quit this shitty job? In short, are you willing to stop living the life you have and start living the life you’re after? It ALL begins with the emergence of willingness, that liquid, constantly expanding and contracting state where life springs and cedes—and all of it is within you at the flick of a linguistic switch. We often view ourselves as procrastinators or lazy or unmotivated. When in reality, we’re simply unwilling. We put things off or avoid them completely because we tell ourselves we just don’t want to do it or that we can’t do it. Instead of viewing this behavior as a character flaw, let’s create a sense of willingness where there is apparently none. A spark of potential, if you like. You are a master generator of this state of openness and potential. Once upon a time in your life, this state was easy to access, enlivened by the vigor of youth or the curiosity of childhood. Somehow, over the years, we lost touch with this magical state. The famous philosopher and political scientist Niccolo Machiavelli once said, “Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great”. Consider that for a second. It does not matter what you’re facing in life, which obstacle you’re trying to overcome – if you are willing to generate that state of willingness, that’s your doorway to making the effort, taking the steps, dealing with the setbacks, and ultimately creating the progress and change in your life that you’re seeking. That’s why such a simple statement – “I am willing” – is so profound. You become enlivened and empowered by its promise, open to its allure. I ask again: are you willing? WHEN THE DOOR IS CLOSED Maybe you are in fact, unwilling. In many cases, that may actually be the best answer you can give. Sometimes declaring your unwillingness can be just as powerful as declaring willingness. Are you willing to live with a body that’s unhealthy? No. Are you willing to continue living paycheck to paycheck? No. Are you willing to put up with unworkable, unsustainable relationships? No. I AM UNWILLING!! Unwillingness ignites resolve and determination. It provides an access to taking a robust and urgent approach to your situation. When you are unwilling it often represents a line in the sand where you are no longer willing to go back the way. Only when you’re unwilling to continue just simply existing, feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled, will you make the effort necessary to make a change. Only when you’re unwilling to put up with the bullshit any longer will you grab your shovel and start digging. At times there is no greater motivation to change than the unwillingness to do “this” any longer. Which one works for you in your life currently? I am willing or I am unwilling? Can you see how being unwilling can potentially be just as powerful as being willing? Depending on the circumstance, some of us feel more empowered by the assertion, “I am willing,” while for others declaring “I am unwilling” gives them strength and resolve. You might find yourself motivated by both equally depending on the situation. Whichever category you fall into, you can not only shift the personal assertion, you can re-frame the way you approach your problems. For example, are you willing to find a new job? Yes. “I am willing.” Are you willing to stay in a job you hate? No. “I am unwilling”. Both assertions can be just as effective. It’s up to you to determine which one fits your persona and situation. Which one “does it” for you? THE POWER OF PURPOSE There’s another way for your unwillingness to free you from the hamster wheel because sometimes it doesn’t matter what you ask yourself or how many times you’ve said it; you just can’t muster the willingness long enough to change anything. You might well be one of life’s great-starters-but-not-finishers. At the end of it all, you might have to face the cold reality that you have been all too willing to remain the same. You have been unwilling to fundamentally change your life and lose that weight for good, that somewhere in there you are ok with living this way. I mean, come on, you must be or you would have changed it by now! At some level you must have some tolerance to having your life turn out like this. That’s actually okay. Getting straight with yourself about having made the decision to stay where you are can be just as powerful as the decision to move. Why? Because sometimes recognizing that you willingly put yourself in a place where you are unhappy is often all the impetus required to make an opening for real and lasting change. This has to be done without blaming yourself and turning yourself into a victim of some internal blip or character “flaw”. In the moment you realize you have cognitively and systematically put yourself here, guess what? That’s right, you can cognitively and systematically get yourself out! This is also the foundation of granting yourself the grace of acceptance, of embracing what has been and daring yourself to reach for an unimaginable future. “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” - Epictetus By stating and facing your unwillingness to change, you can take stock of yourself and your life and begin to create a sliver of light for you to at least start. The secret is, once you’ve separated the task (or whatever it is you are dealing with), from the drama of the past, you may find yourself more open to tackling it. You’ll be able to get past the emotional swirl and straight to the heart of the issue itself. REACHING FOR THE STARS WITH SHORT ARMS Some goals simply aren’t connected to our reality. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for reaching for the stars and striving for things that seem impossible. For instance, we’d probably all like to be filthy rich. But are you willing to do what it takes to make that much money? Are you willing to work 60, 70 or 80 hours of your week or skip vacations to do the work that needs to get done? Are you willing to take on more responsibility and, importantly, risk it all? Have you, in reality, confronted and dealt with what becoming filthy rich might really demand of you? The seemingly endless drain on your life and mind space? Our society has produced such a headlong rush to be the wealthiest, the smartest, the prettiest, the best dressed, the funniest or the strongest, and somewhere in there we have lost the ability to just be ourselves, free to breathe life and choose our own path rather than carry the burden of social or familial expectation. What does all that produce? Well, a lot of disappointed and unfulfilled human beings that’s for sure. That doesn’t mean you should stop pursuing amazing life goals if that’s what you really want. It also doesn’t mean you should let yourself stagnate and stop improving either. There’s nothing inherently wrong in working long hours and sacrificing your quality of life, and some people might be perfectly content doing so in order to make the income or get the career they want. But so many of us have actually forgotten why we are pursuing what we are pursuing in the first place. All too often, we focus solely on what we don’t have, even though deep down we don’t really need it or perhaps even want it. When I lay these things out, you might be nodding your head. “He’s right, I don’t need to be a millionaire” or “I don’t even really want six-pack abs.” Which of course is all fine until the next time you see that nice car and think, “Why don’t I have that?”, or when you look at the cover of a magazine and wonder, “Why don’t I look like that?” or “Why aren’t my clothes that nice?” Making sure we’re striving for what we really want requires a constant check-in with ourselves. It’s not a one-and-done deal. If you really want those things, then go get them! Begin today, lay out your strategy, deal with your reality and, most importantly, take the actions required and take them often! But if you’re not willing to work an extra 10 or 20 hours a week just to drive to work in a BMW instead of a Honda, give up the complete waste of precious headspace to yearn for it. Stop pretending to yourself. Deal with your unwillingness to take on the kind of actions accomplishing those things would require and accept that you have been bullshitting yourself. You’ll have a lot more capacity for loving the life you actually do have and create some room to begin striving for the things you actually want in life. “I am unwilling” to give up all of my favorite foods just to have the body I did when I was 20. “I am unwilling” to trade time with my family for an extra zero on my paycheck. Face your reality. Once you adopt the mindset of “I am unwilling”, you will no longer be filled with guilt, resentment or regret every time you see something you think you “want”. You’ll be in a place where you are connected to and in tune with your real life and, if you really want to pursue those things in the future, you’ll be able to locate yourself from that reality and plot your road to accomplish them. CHART YOUR PATH One of the beautiful things about really taking a hard look at your life and goals is that doing so forces you to re-evaluate the path that leads to them. Is exercising 30 minutes a day really as impossible as your mind has built it up to be? Sure, you’re going to get a little sweaty and tired but you can throw on your favorite music to help the time go by faster. And, even though it might start out painfully, you’ll eventually get used to that and grow stronger. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you offer your idea in that meeting? It gets shot down? So what? Even if you’re faced with bigger tasks—MUCH bigger tasks like years of back taxes, a hoarder’s paradise of a garage, telling the truth to someone you’ve been lying to—the path to change starts with that same glimmer of willingness. Bear in mind we all tend to build things up in our minds to be a lot bigger than they really are. Telling the truth becomes a trek to the Sahara Desert and back. If that’s the case for you, try breaking the task down into smaller declarations of willingness to “stand up”, “get out of bed”, “open my email”, etc. Of course you might well be dealing with something much bigger than these examples but even when you ramp it up, the same model works exceptionally well. Let’s say you have been holding onto a dark secret. Maybe you’re ashamed or guilty or resentful. Perhaps this is something that could change your life in a significant way. “Am I willing to tell the truth to that person I’ve been lying to?” When you frame it this way, coming clean becomes an occasion to talk, listen and then deal with the consequences. You might be dreading it but you can do it. It’s not the task that’s important, it’s the life that’s available after that’s at stake here. When you are free to be open and available, with nothing held back, no lies, no withholds or half-truths, you really are your most expressive, most alive self. Most of the time, the task we’re actually facing is a lot simpler than we think it is. The problem is, we usually don’t take the time to really look at it. Some of the things we face certainly can be challenging, but at the same time what’s on the other side of those challenges is a life of our dreams. A life where we are willing and open and inspired to take it on. Make that assertion, “I am willing.” PLANT YOUR FLAG When you start to view the world through the lens of what you’re willing and unwilling to pursue, rather than what it seems you want and don’t want, things start to become a lot clearer. Instead of wasting time worrying about the things other people have, you’ll start focusing on what’s really important to you and your life. You’ll realize that once you replace envy, lust, and desire with a willingness to change your life for the better, things really start to take shape. When we understand what we are genuinely willing to do, we take back control over the subconscious thoughts and feelings that previously directed our behavior away from where we truly wanted to go. You have the ability to determine what your truth is and not from some sub-conscious glitch that keeps popping up from the past either but instead from your cognitive and conscious self, from the power of intervening on behalf of yourself. Willingness is a truth, a true beauty that only you can generate. No longer will thoughts like “I am a failure because I’m not a millionaire” or “I am lazy because I’m not a size 6,” have the power to make you feel like crap because you will have owned your choices. Once you frame the obstacles in your life as a matter of “willing” and “unwilling” – instead of weighing yourself down with negative opinions of yourself and your circumstances, you can break through the self-imposed barriers that are truly holding you back. You can see through the distractions of self-talk and drama. You’ll realize that when you’re willing to do what it takes, nothing else matters. You won’t put off the things you’re truly willing to do. You won’t neglect the responsibilities you took on because you will feel the strong sense of willingness to do them. Willingness. It’s the lifeblood of the new, the infinite well of possibility and potential, a state where new futures arise and a whole new you can begin. Ask yourself “am I willing?” over and over until you can hear it, first thing in the morning, last thing at night, while you’re driving, while in the shower, “Am I willing?” Ask, ask, ask until a resounding YES echoes through your consciousness. I AM WILLING! I ask you again, “Are you willing?”. Chapter 8 “I expect nothing and accept everything.” Chapter 2 “I am willing.” “Stop blaming luck. Stop blaming other people. Stop pointing to outside influences or circumstances.” Think back to some of your biggest successes in life. Maybe you made a really big sale, started a new business, or bought a house. Maybe you got married to the love of your life or went back to school or completed a marathon. It could be anything you’re truly proud of. How the hell did you achieve it? Well, you probably weren’t sitting on the couch pondering your navel. Chances are you weren’t wrapped up in in the humdrum of your everyday existence either, or mentally calculating the sharp rise in the price of milk since 1977. So what was it? I may not be able to guess exactly what you were doing, but I can be certain of one thing: you were uncomfortable. Put a slightly different way, you were most likely operating outside of your “comfort zone”. From the nervousness and doubt we feel when we take risks in our careers, to the muscle soreness and shortness of breath we experience pumping out another 5 minutes on the treadmill, our biggest successes are born out of discomfort, uncertainty, and risk. “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” - Theodore Roosevelt In fact, the greater the degree of discomfort you experience, the greater the difficulty, the greater the sense of personal accomplishment that comes after. And that’s exactly why great accomplishments and extraordinary successes are so rare. Because most people don’t like being uncomfortable. BEING RELENTLESS Anytime you’re working to achieve something, you’re going against the current. Often the opinion of the people around you is trying to push and pull you away from your destination. They’ll say you can’t do it, you’re making a mistake, it’s impossible, you’ll fail. The more unique and out-of-the-box your endeavor is, the stronger the push back can be. Why? Well, mostly because the other people in your life have gotten used to relating to you as a specific “kind” of person. So any time you attempt to break out of that mold, you’re not only messing with your own world, you’re also messing with theirs. And the resistance doesn’t just come from other people; It comes from your own mind too. Both your conscious and subconscious thoughts can work against you to stop your dreams right in their tracks. It could be outright negative – “That’s impossible. Why even try?” Or it could be subtler. “Wouldn’t it be a lot better to just sleep in instead of getting an early jump on things at the office?” “That game on your phone is so much more fun than working.” You could overcome these distractions and objections, of course, as we discussed in the last chapter. But there comes a point on your journey where you sometimes lose track of where you are. You become so locked up in the daily humdrum that you’ve completely wandered off the path and into the middle of the fucking jungle, and are now meandering around with no map, no water and no clue. Are you going in the right direction? How long until you get there? How much more of this can you take? Maybe it’s over here. No wait, maybe it’s this way. And when you inevitably stumble or encounter some sort of obstacle, you question the journey at all. Maybe it’s even time to turn back. At this point, when you don’t know whether you’re up or down, how far you have to go or how far you’ve come, there’s only one thing that can keep you going. That thing is relentlessness. The momentum to keep moving and moving and moving, no matter what happens. It doesn’t matter if we’re “feeling it”, it doesn’t matter if we’re gripped by doubt and worry. Here’s the deal, true relentlessness comes when the only thing you have left is relentlessness. When it seems all is lost and all hope and evidence for success has long since vanished, relentlessness is the fuel that drives you through. IT’S ONLY TRUE IF YOU AGREE The most successful among us got to where they are today because they transcended obstacles. But that’s easier said than done. It’s one thing to say “never give up” (I fucking hate bumper sticker-slogans), but quite another to actually put relentlessness into your life’s most worthy causes. Listen, when it comes down to it, the world doesn’t stop you from succeeding; you’re not that big of a deal. The universe is neither conspiring for nor against you, and the only thing that stops you is when you buy into the notion that you are stopped. Then, my friend, you really are stopped. Until then, it’s on like freaking Donkey Kong. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” - Aristotle Think about all of the things that have been accomplished in human history that were once considered “impossible”. If you told someone from the 1850’s that you could fly from California to China in a hollow metal tube filled with hundreds of people, they’d have more than likely sent you to the local insane asylum for the rest of your days. But the Wright brothers didn’t accept that flight was impossible. They simply didn’t accept that thought—even though there was no historical evidence to prove that human flight was possible. Even though they had no physical proof and it had never been done before, they were determined to make it happen and they were relentless in its pursuit. Now compare that to your own problems. If you’re like most people, your goals probably aren’t nearly as ambitious as inventing the first airplane. You probably just want to make more money, face your fears, find your soul mate, lose some weight or strike a blow for a better life—things that have been done millions of times before, and will be done again and again in the future, by people just as capable as you. These goals ARE possible. However, don’t be fooled by the self-help bullshit that tells you “You deserve it!” Because you don’t. No one does. That conversation will leave you waiting and wanting and eventually a complete victim to your own life. Sometimes you just have to grind it out, stake your claim and hustle for what you want. You will need to quite literally make it happen. So when someone looks at you and says, “You’ll never make a million dollars” or your brain is telling you, “It’s impossible for you to lose 100 pounds,” you have two choices. You could succumb to the notion that you don’t know what you’re doing, that you lack the resources, that you don’t have what it takes or that you or your life needs to be fixed before you can do those things. And then you can quit. Or you can disagree. You can absolutely refuse to accept it and reach for your greatness. You can say, “No, you’re wrong, and I’m going to prove it.” The impossible only becomes possible in the moment you believe it is. “We would accomplish more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” - Vince Lombardi Here’s the crazy thing: you can never really prove what’s possible or impossible. You could throw yourself at something a thousand times, failing miserably on every attempt, and yet succeed on attempt #1,001. The truth is, you can never really know. We never really have all the facts. As humans, we still only understand a tiny fraction of our own minds let alone the world or the oceans or space or technology. If someone tells you they have all the answers, call them out on that bullshit. The truth is they’re winging it just like you, just like everyone else. Answers? Gimme a freaking break! So if we can’t even say for certain that it’s impossible to put a man on Mars, how can any of us know what we’re really capable of in the day-to-day living of our lives? They can’t. The only question is whether you agree with what you can and cannot do. An opinion only becomes true when you accept it and stop acting on your potential. My own life is an example of what’s possible when you live life beyond your own beliefs and the views of others. I was a pretty average high-school student, but I’ve gone on to travel the world and coach thousands and thousands of people. I’ve guided doctors, lawyers, politicians, actors, celebrities, athletes, CEOs—hell, I’ve even coached Catholic priests in Ireland and Buddhist monks in Thailand! There’s a wondrous, magical life out there waiting for you in the unknown and while it’s not all cherry pies and bubblegum, there is a reality that you can accomplish that’s far beyond the one you’re currently wasting away in. BLAZING THE RELENTLESS TRAIL To see this idea of relentlessness in action, let’s look at a major success story that you and I are likely to be familiar with: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold was born to relatively poor parents in a small town in Austria, just a couple of years after the end of World War II. Yet young Arnold dreamt of going to America and acting in movies. What do you think his parents thought of that dream? What do you think his fellow Austrian townsfolk told him about his ambitions or whispered behind his back? Remember, we’re not talking about today, where we have television and internet and smartphones and anyone with a wireless connection can become a celebrity. Back then, most households didn’t even have a TV. “America” was a nebulous, fantastical concept for Arnold and the people he grew up with- a place they had only seen in pictures or movies. So you can pretty much guarantee that everyone he knew thought there was no chance he’d ever realize his dream and if he had accepted that at any point, their words would have come true. If he had agreed that he wouldn’t become a world famous bodybuilder, it would’ve been true. If he had agreed that he couldn’t move to America, he wouldn’t have. If he had accepted that he’d never make it into movies or he’d never be a star actor or he couldn’t become governor, he would have quit. But he never agreed with what the world or other people told him about what was and wasn’t possible. He was relentless. He spent hours in the gym every day, pushing his body. He practiced his bodybuilding poses. He read books. He learned business. He auditioned for movie roles. Relentlessly. Giving up or changing plans simply wasn’t an option. And if you look at his path, you can learn something valuable about relentlessness: Sometimes, it’s all you have. Before Arnold, no Austrian bodybuilder had ever gone onto become an A-list action start in the United States, let alone be elected governor of California. You can be sure he spent a good part of his life and career not really knowing where he was going. There aren’t any road signs when you’re trekking through uncharted territory, it’s all discovery and exploration. You are blazing a trail, not following one. When you find yourself in that situation, all you can do is focus on and deal with what’s directly in front of you. You just put one foot in front of the other, taking things on as they present themselves. Even Arnold, who had a big, grand vision, ultimately achieved it by taking one step at a time. He’d go to the gym and start working his biceps. He’d focus on each movement, each rise and fall of the dumbbell, rep after rep after rep, feeling his muscles flex and tear and grow. Then when he was done with biceps, he’d move on to shoulders. And then back. And then glutes. And then quads. And then calves. As he worked each respective muscle group, he gave it his full attention. And then it was on to the next one, moment by moment by moment. When he had worked each muscle, each body part, to exhaustion, he went home. But there he was the next day, doing it all over again. Relentlessly. Look more recently at people like Malala Yousafzai who stands for the rights of women and children in Afghanistan or Michael Phelps and his record breaking athletic accomplishments or Jessica Cox, born without arms and currently flying commercial airlines. Are you getting the picture here? The key to becoming relentless is to focus on the problem in front of you. Give it your full attention. Become someone who progresses even when all seems lost. The answer is always out there; all you need to do is find it. Then you can move forward to your next obstacle. And you give that obstacle your full attention until it’s taken care of. Then there’s the next and the next and the next. By doing this, you never have to wonder where you’re going. You’re not worried about how many miles you have left to walk. You become someone who loves obstacles rather than avoids them because obstacles are your keys to success and growth. You simply take one step at a time. And if you come upon something that’s blocking your path, you find a way to get over it or get around it. Then you keep walking. Relentlessness doesn’t mean charging into the fray headfirst, swinging and flailing your arms every which way. It’s focused, determined action. Again and again and again. You’re not bashing your fist against a brick wall until it’s bloody and bruised. You’re using your hammer and chisel to slowly, methodically chip away piece by piece until eventually there’s a hole. And then the hole gets bigger. And bigger. And before you know it, you’re like Alice stepping through the looking glass to a whole new world. YOU ARE RELENTLESS When you’re not sure if you’re following the right path, when you’ve been knocked down a few too many times, it’s completely fine to get discouraged, hell; even defeated. What’s not ok is to stop. Because you can always lean on relentlessness. When you have nothing else, you have relentlessness. Rather than worrying about whether you should keep going or turn back, press in relentlessly. Relentlessness has one direction, and that’s forward. It only has one option, and that’s to keep the momentum going. There is no giving up. There is no quitting. There is no changing of plans. Relentless is the bodybuilder who goes to the gym for hours every day. Relentless is the prospective entrepreneur who has been ridiculed or rejected for their completely original idea but keeps pitching it anyway. Relentless is the overweight Mom who feels like she’s never going to get there. Relentless is the newly minted college graduate at the bottom of the corporate ladder barely making enough to pay her rent and yet staying at the office later than anyone else just to learn as much as she can. Relentless is you. Anyone who’s ever gone to the gym knows that the results aren’t immediate. You don’t spend 30 minutes on the treadmill and look like a new person. But that doesn’t mean what you’re doing isn’t working. You’re making progress. With each exercise, each step, each movement, each action, you get a little better, a little closer. Until one day you look in the mirror and think, “Wow”. It’s the same thing with your business or your health, or your career or your relationships. Even when you don’t see anything happening, it is. Even when you’re not quite hitting the mark, you’re making progress. Until one day you look at your bank balance or your new job or your children or your new house and think, “Wow!” That’s why you have to keep going. Relentlessly. Because when you’re trekking through the jungle, you don’t know if you’re three days from civilization or 30 minutes. All you can do is walk. The only way out is forward. Sit up, straighten your spine and repeat after me: “I am relentless”. Table of Contents 01 In the beginning… 02 “I am willing.” 03 “I am wired to win.” 04 “I got this.” 05 “I embrace the uncertainty.” 06 “I am not my thoughts; I am what I do.” 07 “I am relentless.” 08 “I expect nothing and accept everything.” 09 Where next? Have you ever felt like a hamster on a wheel, furiously churning your way through life but somehow going nowhere? All the while you’re caught in a loop of constant internal chatter and judgement that never stops, a little voice telling you that you’re lazy or stupid or not good enough. You won’t even notice the degree to which you believe it or are drained by it, you’ll just be spending your day working to overcome the stresses and strains, trying to live your life and at various points facing the resignation that if you can’t get your ass off this damned wheel maybe you are never going to get to where you want in life – maybe that happiness you’re after or that weight you want to lose or that career or relationship you crave will remain just out of reach. These pages are dedicated to those that experience that self-defeating monolog. The endless stream of doubt and subterfuge that limits and taints everyday life. This is a conversational slap from the universe to wake you up to your true potential, to unfuck yourself and get spectacularly into your life. Let’s get this thing started in the right place. There are two kinds of talk you engage in every day: talking to others and talking to yourself. You might be one of those that insists, “I don’t talk to myself!” But, in fact, most of the conversations you have on any given day are with yourself—all “enjoyed” in the solitude and privacy of your own head. Whether you’re introverted or extroverted, creative or practical, you spend huge swathes of your time talking to…YOU! You do it while exercising, working, eating, reading, writing, walking, texting, crying, arguing, negotiating, planning, praying, meditating, having sex, (on your own and with others)—you name it. And yes, you even do it in your sleep. You’re actually doing it right now. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Or, perhaps it means we’re all a little crazy. Either way, we all do it, so settle in and welcome to the freak show. Studies show that we have over fifty thousand thoughts per day. Think of all the things you say to yourself that you’d rather not or that you try to overcome or defeat. While we have little or no say in those automatic and reactionary thoughts, we have a massive say in which of those same thoughts we attach significance to. They don’t come pre-loaded!! The latest in neuroscience and psychology adds weight to the idea that the kind of talk you engage in has a profound impact on the quality of your life. Professor Will Hart of the University of Alabama conducted four experiments in which participants either recalled or experienced a positive, negative or neutral event. They found that people who described the neutral event in ways that it suggested it was ongoing, actually felt more positive and when they described a negative event in the same way, they experienced more negativity. In simple terms, the language you use to describe your circumstances determines how you see, experience and participate in them and dramatically affect how you deal with your life and confront problems both big and small. The connection between what we say and how we feel has been known for hundreds if not thousands of years. Philosophers like Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Gadamer all knew of the importance and significance of language in our lives. Wittgenstein said, “…the harmony between thought and reality can be found the grammar of the language”. The good news is, studies have continually found that positive self-talk can dramatically improve mood, boost confidence, increase productivity, and more. Much more. In fact, as evidenced by Professor Hart and his studies, it can be one of the key components to a happy, successful life. The bad news is, the reverse is also true: Negative self-talk can not only put us in a bad mood, it can leave us feeling helpless. It can make small problems seem bigger – and even create problems where none existed before. Here’s the breaking news, your self-talk is fucking you over and in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. With all of this in mind, let’s get one thing clear: Even though this is a book about using the right language to improve your life, I’m NOT suggesting you suddenly take on positive thinking or personal affirmations. Those subjects have been done to death with varying degrees of success and certainly not what we’ll be doing here. I won’t ask you to tell yourself you’re a tiger as a way to unleash your inner animal. Firstly, you’re not a tiger and secondly, well, you’re not a tiger. This all may work for some people, but I’m much too Scottish for that. To me, being told to do these sorts of things feels like being force fed a bucket of maple syrup liberally sprinkled with bits of last year’s candy canes. Thanks but eh, no thanks. For all my “positives” out there, sorry but we’re taking this baby in another direction! This book is designed to give you an authentic leg-up–one that feels genuine and right for you and can propel you into greater levels of your true potential. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUCCESS AND FAILURE “If human emotions largely result from thinking, then one may appreciably control one’s feelings by controlling one’s thoughts – or by changing the internalized sentences, or self-talk, with which one largely created the feeling in the first place.” That quote comes from Albert Ellis, one of the forefathers of modern psychology. Ellis found that how we think and talk about our experiences shifts the way we feel about them. In short, our thoughts are bedfellows with our emotions. Ellis also found that the way we think can often be completely irrational. Consider how many times you’ve told yourself something like, “I’m so stupid,” “I always mess things up,” “My life is over,” or some negative description of an event like, “this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me”. Raise your hand if you’ve ever completely over-reacted to something that, in hindsight, barely registered on the important-o-meter? Ok, put your hand down, people are watching and you’re starting to look a bit silly. If you look back you’ll see that in the instant before that seemingly random over-reaction, you had a flash of outrageous self-talk, BANG! …and off you go with your good self. Some of the things we say and do aren’t always particularly rational but we seem to say and do them anyway! In addition, we never really see what we are leaving ourselves with or the emotional residue of engaging in even the mildest of negative self-talk. You see, it’s not always dramatic self-talk, sometimes it’s subtle but equally disempowering. If you’re working on something, you might think, “This is so hard. What if I don’t finish in time?” or worry about all the different ways you can “mess up,” which leaves you in an anxious or worried state. Sometimes negative self-talk leads to anger, sadness, or frustration that manifests in different or seemingly unrelated situations. This kind of self-talk doesn’t make your life any easier. The more you tell yourself how hard something is, the harder it will actually seem. Unfortunately, since we are constantly listening to a steady stream of our automatic inner thoughts and have become so accustomed to the critical voice in our heads, we often don’t realize how negative thoughts impact our mood and behavior in any given moment and, as a result, we end up doing—or not doing—things our rational minds want us to do. For a simple example, take a moment to think about the daily chores you dread the most, all because you’ve built them up in your mind to be something worse than they really are. We sometimes avoid simple things like folding laundry and unloading the dishwasher, when they actually take little time and effort. With enough of these little persistent items hanging around it’s easy to collapse them in with the bigger, more important things until we find ourselves overwhelmed or exhausted by life. Why do we “resist” certain things in our lives? We have a personal conversation about those kinds of tasks that is firmly rooted in some negative opinion. Look in your own life for your “stuck-ness” and you’ll see what I mean. You have a pretty serious self-talk blockage! HOW LANGUAGE CHANGES OUR LIVES The way we talk doesn’t only affect us in the moment. It can seep into our subconscious and become internalized, changing our thoughts and behavior in the long-term. In real everyday terms, the way we talk to ourselves and others instantly shapes how we perceive life, and that same perception directly impacts our behavior right there in the moment. Ignore your perceptions at your peril! Even worse, live with the illusion that you don’t have perceptions! If you’re sometimes talking about how “unfair” life is, you’ll start to act according to that view, perceiving slights where none exist or, as studies have shown, putting less effort into your work because you’ve already determined it won’t accomplish anything. The unfair view will quickly become your reality. On the other hand, the person who views success as if it were just around the corner will not only work his butt off to achieve it but be energized and alive to it and all the while acting on that fundamental view of success. To be clear, believing you will be successful is only one, (albeit important), part of success. By the same token, there is a way to accomplish great things without that belief although the ride will be a bit rougher! If you’re worried that you don’t have that kind of personal belief, READ ON! Marcus Aurelius, the stoic philosopher turned Roman Emperor, said, “Here is a rule to remember in the future, when anything tempts you to feel bitter: not ‘This is misfortune,’ but ‘To bear this worthily is good fortune.’” It’s entirely within our power to determine how we think about and talk about our problems. They can be a nuisance or a stepping stone. They can hold us down or lift us up. In fact, stoic philosophers like Aurelius believed that outside events hold no power over us at all. We create our own reality with our minds. “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.” Take some time here to ponder that statement. How willing are you to consider that your life is the way it is, not because of the weight of your circumstances or situation, but rather the weight of self-talk that pulls you down? That what you think you can and cannot do is influenced much more directly by some subconscious response than the reality of life itself?! If you keep looking out there, (outside of yourself), to your circumstances and feverishly working to get out of them you’ll keep getting the same response. No power, no joy, no vitality. At best it’s a see-saw of success and disappointment, happiness and despair. Sometimes your circumstances just don’t change, sometimes they stagnate and crystalize. What if that thing you’re working toward, that thing you are sure will make you happier, better or more confident doesn’t happen? What then? Even if it does arrive someday, what happens to your life between now and that day? This book will require you to seek the answer, not out there, but inside of yourself. It’s not that you have to find the answer, you are the answer. As I’ve said to my clients many, many times, people spend their lives waiting for the cavalry, all the while never realizing they are the cavalry. Your life is waiting on you to finally show up. RE-TRAIN YOUR BRAIN - ONE WORD AT A TIME All this talk about our subconscious isn’t just a bunch of psychobabble. Scientists have discovered that our thoughts can actually change the physical structure of our brain. This phenomenon, neuroplasticity, is revolutionizing the way we think about the human mind. As we go through life learning and experiencing new things, our brain is constantly arranging and rearranging the neural pathways that control how we think and behave. The best part is, we direct our thoughts in a way that consciously modifies these path ways for ourselves. And the easiest way to shape those thoughts is through conscious, decisive self-talk. The kind of talk that “cuts through” and takes control of your life. Just like we build habits by repeating an action until it becomes “automatic”, we can use strong, assertive language over time to create lasting change in our lives. It’s more than just happy thoughts, (don’t break out the candy canes just yet) – you’re affecting your brain’s very biology. We can determine our emotions by steering our thoughts. We can shape those thoughts by being conscious of and diligent about our words and the kind of language we engage in. A lot of this will come down to your basic tolerance of your current mindset and your willingness to change it. It all starts by making a conscious choice to talk in a way that’s helpful rather than harmful. By using the right kind of language and framing