"The Man, The Mission, The Passion" Husband, Father, Attorney, CPA, Steward Leader, Entrepreneur, MBA, Author, Builder, HBS OPM 25 Class, Mentor, Teacher

Do You Pay Attention to You?

inner peace

What do you do when you are tired? Lonely? Bored? Depressed? Frustrated? Anxious? What are your coping strategies? What or whom do you reach out for? What are your sources of relief? Your methods of escape? 

Have you tried sitting with the emotion first for a while? Not fighting it, not running from it, just… sitting with it. Observing it, feeling it. Gently plumbing its contours, seeking its origins, diving deeper than just the surface source (we are rarely upset or have fights for the reasons we first think we are; triggers are usually not the true explosive).

Our habitual responses regularly lead us astray in two ways: 

– “We continue to seek comfort and ease in ways that only strengthen our fears” (Pema Chodron). Like a child seeking relief from poison ivy by scratching the itch, many responses give temporary relief at the cost of perpetuating or reinforcing the underlying problem.

– We so rapidly reach for relief (really more for distraction) to alleviate symptoms of discomfort that we rarely take the time to get curious about the underlying root causes. Thus the cycle repeats and repeats.

Breaking the cycle, catching the pattern as it develops: These are vital to our growth, to achieving our full potential as humans. Reading inspirational literature, journaling, mediating: all these train the mind, still the mind, teach us that we are separate from our emotions, that we can direct our thoughts, that we can alter the stories we tell ourselves and thus create the flexibility of mind and spirit to truly craft our best selves.

 Closing Quotes:

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver, b. 1935, poet 

“The battle you are going through is not fueled by the words or actions of others; it is fueled by the mind that gives it importance.”  – Shannon L. Alder, author

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” – Zig Ziglar, 1926 – 2012

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

Three Futile Strategies

make progress not excuses

We humans are often not comfortable dealing with troubling emotions. This most emphatically includes awareness around self-defeating patterns we are choosing to repeat. We frequently deploy “Three Futile Strategies”:  

1) Attacking:  

We condemn ourselves, we beat ourselves up, whip away at our self-concept, criticize and shame ourselves and then wallow in our guilt in between lashes of our internal critic’s cat o’ nine tails! We “suffer” after a fashion but not in any useful, constructive way. Furthermore, because it is us doing it to us, it can be oddly comforting i.e. we are pretending to atone for our sins, therefore we can kid ourselves that the cosmic scales are being balanced in some weird fashion.

2) Indulging: 

We attempt to justify, rationalize, defend, excuse, explain away, and validate our behavior: “I’m not responsible, they did it to me.” They can be parents, spouse, world, life, boss, job: fill in the blank; doesn’t really matter does it? You may not be fully responsible for the situation, but if you want it to change for the better, you’d best assume responsibility for finding a palatable solution!

3) Ignoring:

Running away is always a favorite! And it seems to work for a while; but then, everywhere you go, there you are, dragging your past around with you like a ball and chain. We can try to go numb, to distance ourselves from reality but somehow reality has a habit of catching up with us when we are least prepared and the consequences are rarely pleasant. Dissociating yourself from life is like driving down the freeway with your eyes closed; dumb as can be.

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

It’s Not Discipline…


It’s not discipline; it’s simply being smart about what we really want and being intelligent about how to really love and take care of ourselves. It’s not denying yourself; it’s investing for a greater future reward. It’s not pain; it’s simply postponed pleasure. 

How long is your decision time frame? Are you slaved to immediate gratification? Do you allow your immediate emotional states to run mad? Do the “hot states” of the moment control your actions? OR does your life have a principled purpose, a deeper meaning? Do you wish to contribute, to make a difference, to make the world a better place and yourself a better person?

Even if your life’s objectives are basically egocentric, taking the long view is simply smart. When you have goals and plan to achieve those goals and you focus your energies forward on the necessary action steps the allure of short term satisfaction fades. When you visualize your success and work at it and begin to see yourself as the kind of focused, on task, goal oriented person that is capable of achievement, anything that does not contribute to your mission(s) will lose its pull. 

As you progress, the draw of any distraction diminishes. You’ve worked so hard, invested so much of yourself (to get fit, to get certified, to get promoted, to grow spiritually, to improve your EQ) that anything that would sabotage, that would undermine, that would tarnish your progress is verboten. Things that used to tempt you no longer warrant a second glance. You’ve moved beyond, your eye is fixed upon a mountain top. It’s not discipline, it’s just being good to yourself and choosing better. It’s mature desire, desire created by your mind and spirit intently focusing so much of your energy on a goal that any lagging emotions have no choice but to join in and get fully on board. It’s the joy of flow. 

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier