Archive for the ‘Psychology of Inspiration’ Category

The Secret and Follow-Through

Erik Mazzone commented here on a previous post of mine …

But to play devil’s advocate, nonetheless: if you are really following through on actions, why would you necessarily need intention or attention? If I run 5 miles every day, aren’t I going to get more fit even if I am not “placing an order with the universe”?

I find that my failures are usually of the discipline and execution variety — on the action front. Can the Law of Attraction help with this?

I love Devil’s Advocates! (Except the Keanu Reeves movie of the same name. There’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back. Anyway.)

First, I should begin by pointing out that everything I’m about to write should be interpreted as having been prefaced with a big ol’ “In my experience….” – and the stress is on the “my” not to imbue myself with an unearned authority but to emphasize that my experience is (and must be, out of necessity) very personal to me. In short – YMMV.*

To answer the first question – sure, of course you will be more fit. The question becomes, “how easily/quickly do you want to get there?” And also “how far do you want to surpass ‘there'”? And finally, “how much fun do you want to have while you’re doing it?” Questions like “won’t I get there if I just do it?” essentially focus on the result. And in life, I think, it’s far more interesting to focus on the process. (Also helps to lessen the inevitable “got what I wanted – now what?!” blues.) I can work my ass off, seven days a week, devoting my life to my job, and maybe I’ll get rich (maybe I won’t, but there’s a possibility, and certainly a better one than if I sat around watching Lifetime movies all day). But I can also use the Law of Attraction to create the same result, with less effort and more – I won’t say “balance” because I think that’s bogus, and usually misunderstood to mean a static condition – let’s say “with less effort and more well-roundedness.” (If that’s even a word.)

Erik asks another excellent question about using the Law of Attraction to improve one’s ability to follow through on an “order” with the requisite action. Sure you can! In fact, I find lately more and more that the things I’m asking for aren’t really “things” at all but traits and habits that will help me use the LoA more effectively and efficiently. Case in point: me.

Right now, I’m working on “organizational ability and productivity.” I sort of slunk into a very lethargic mode a few months ago due to some family stress, and am only recently climbing my way out of that hole. I’m using the LoA as a framework for this endeavor – placing my order (which means asking once!), aligning my thoughts and feelings, and acting as if it were already true. Now, going back to the first question for a bit, sure I could have simply changed my actions. But how long do you think those actions would have come easily to me? Well, I know myself, so I’ll provide the answer: about a week. I can use sheer momentum to fuel a change in action for myself for about a week. But after that point, unless I’ve aligned those thoughts and feelings accordingly, I can kiss the improvements good-bye.

Think about this for a minute – could this possibly explain why (as but one example) people find it so hard to quit smoking? Or lose weight? They’ve been relying purely on action alone to carry them through to their goal. And what’s their goal? “To lose weight.” “To stop smoking.” In short – negative states. The absence of something. Whereas, LoA teaches that whatever we focus on is what we get – that our thoughts are reduced to their essence. So “to stop smoking” becomes “smoking” – and “to lose weight” becomes “weight.”

I have a story to share on that, too – I used to smoke, a lot. I tried to quit about 12 times before finally succeeding. Here’s what happened: I planned a quit date of “the day after Thanksgiving.” I did my research. I put in the requisite supply of healthy snacks. I joined an online support group. I identified all my “triggers” and had great plans to deal with each of them. And the not-smoking lasted all of … 36 hours.

I was despondent, and really down on myself. I logged on to the support group and typed in this woefully pathetic message entitled “Why Can’t I QUIT?!” And the responses poured in. “You’re setting yourself up for failure by assuming it to be so,” said one. “You can quit. You just don’t want to,” said another. And so on.

Something happened while reading those messages. They all started to merge into one piece of advice, somehow – as if all those posters had one piece of the puzzle and I had to look at them all together, laid out before me, in order to see the picture. So, I took a deep breath and started again. But this time, I focused on my thoughts and feelings. I began thinking a new way, and it literally was a monologue I wrote out that went something like this:

I am smoke-free. I have healthy lungs that can take in all the fresh air I’d ever want. I am SO excited about the new life I’m getting. Smoking makes me sick. I will literally throw up if I get near a lit cigarette. I am so happy to be a nonsmoker. Every urge to smoke is telling me that this is working and is something to celebrate.

And on and on like that. Now, in retrospect, even that was probably too focused on the absence of the problem, but there comes a point when you have to define what you’re after, and that was the best I could do with this one. Notice the emphasis was on what I was gaining, not what I was losing.

That was four years ago. I’d love to tell you I never smoked again, but that would be a lie. I did smoke – two puffs off one cigarette four months later in the midst of a tornado, but then I decided that if I was going to die that night, I’d rather die a nonsmoker so I put it out and didn’t smoke again until about two months ago; as my separation from my husband was starting to manifest, I allowed the fact that he started smoking again to give me permission to do the same. It lasted a week, and I was able to regain control of my thoughts once more and haven’t smoked since.

The only difference between that final “quit” and the one that preceded it by a few days was my thoughts, collectively. Could I have succeeded on willpower – on actions – alone? Well, apparently not. Maybe someone else could, and more power to you. But for me, I think, life’s hard enough. Why not take all the help I can get?

Hope this helps, Erik!

* – Your Mileage May Vary.

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Narcissist or Empath? The Choice Is Ours

At legal sanity, Arnie Herz writes about “emotional intelligence and narcissism in the law.” We’ve all probably seen the headlines in the last several days about the rise of narcissism in college students. And now Arnie, in discussing this post at the Brazen Careerist on Emotional Intelligence, points out that narcissism is but one demonstrable symptom of low “EQ.”

I encourage anyone interested in making the most out of their work lives to read both Arnie and Penelope Trunk’s posts, linked above, and think about this: Is EQ determined for us? Can we make an actual decision to lessen the narcissism and increase empathy? I say we can, and I base that on one deeply-rooted belief: my belief in our power to change our thoughts and feelings. Many people think that’s impossible – to change one’s feelings – but I’ve done it, and seen it done. And though it unquestionably requires a great deal of effort and concentrated, consistent attention, it can be done.

What brought this renewed emphasis for me was a neat bit of synchronicity. I’d been reading a lot of blogs lately about law practice management and marketing, and even more email posts on the subject from a couple of listservs to which I subscribe. And I noticed what seemed to me to be a marked increase in what I can only call self-aggrandizement in the tone of those posts. A lot of authors seemed very “in love” with themselves! Lots of “I” sentences. Lots of sarcasm and derision when it came to other people’s points of view and opinions. What do I mean?

  • “I’ve been preaching for years that ….”
  • “No, no, no, and no. Sorry but that just doesn’t cut it….”
  • My personal favorite: “If you want to be successful, you must …” (essentially followed by “do what I say”).

Is this the way you want to win friends (much less clients) and influence people? Is there, perhaps, a different way? (Note: I didn’t say “better”!) Let’s put it like this: I don’t think I’d be too keen on hiring someone as a consultant or a coach or a lawyer if that person’s methods of winning me over consisted of building their own pedestal and mocking me, simultaneously.

If I’m wrong, show me that I’m wrong, and how, but do it without denigrating me or my opinion. You can illustrate the power of your thoughts, your methods, your ideas, without attacking. You can even build someone up while you show the superiority of “your way.” Think about how powerful that could be! Wouldn’t you feel pretty good about someone who thought so highly of you?

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