Last week I was listening to someone say ‘this was a reality check for me, it was a slap in the face, and I needed it.’ It was in reference to having attended a personal development event. I’ve been to quite a few personal development events over the last twenty years or so where the reality check involves looking at all our disappointments and failures, all that we have not been able to achieve, finding reasons for not having achieved them and then we’re introduced to a few skills or behaviours that enables us to move forward. It kind of suggests that we were incompetent. That we have made ‘errors’ that have been holding us back. Maybe it’s not the full truth, perhaps the truth is something else. We were never incompetent, but rather on the path to learning.
Nobody every learned to do anything without going through the learning part or the failing. And so failure must be redefined, in such a way as to include it in the learning process. In other words, it is an essential part of the learning equation. Ideology Number 5 of the Sam Knowledge, says ‘All attempts are feedbacks, not failures. We make mistakes to learn,’ is relevant here. And here is the truth that can be counted on; we will fail over and over again constantly and continuously because there is no limit to what we need to learn along this journey we call life. If we interpret failure as a disappointment to be ashamed of, guess what, it’s right around the proverbial corner.
I’d like to ask, do we really need a slap in the face to self-imporove? Would we slap a child in the face for not having met a specific goal or standard? And if not, why is the adult any different! Why the hard ass approach and is it necessary? I don’t believe it is. You see we can focus on other realities about life. Teach life what it has the potential to do, what the brain can do if it is properly focused. Life doesn’t need to be whipped up into a frenzy of emotions that entail the feeling of either shame or disappointment. The idea that what was, was not good enough puts shame into our consciousness and this does not serve us. Our struggles are not indications of an incompetence, but more about skills we have not yet learned or primed and mastered. We are always learning, always evolving, not failing. Just learning!
There has always been one thing that I have used in all of my lessons; gentleness, kindness, humour in the way that I coax the student to come to deeper understandings of self. Then the student wants to look at self, at all aspects of self with compassion and love for self. Here there is no room for shame and here we can rise above our trials and tribulations. And I love these ‘events’, these challenges, because they are our opportunities to cultivate more of self, more wisdom. I say, ‘let us not focus on what we didn’t do, but what we know we have the ability to do with this wonderful brain and mind that we have been blessed with.’ And this is why I love Science and the Science of Brain Plasticity or Neuro-plasticity. The Science affirms and proves, that the human brain is malleable, changeable, re-wirable. This means that we have the ability to learn! If the word Neuro-plasticity confuses you, replace it with ‘brain adaptability’, flexibility!
In my twenties I developed a fondness for Zen philosophy and loved one of the analogies used that pertained to the reed and the stiff branch. In stormy weather the branch may break, in fact the whole tree may be torn down. Yet the reed will not break! That if our mind was like the reed and it could bend to and be flexible with circumstances and conditions, we were better able to work through our trials and tribulations. Sometimes the behaviours we learn, (stubbornness, judgment, resentment, un-forgiveness), don’t work with the nature of our DNA, and that very nature goes against its grain, and then the brain, on the back of that thinking evolves to become that. A branch snaps, a reed is flexible and malleable to the seasons. It also reminds me of Bruce Lee’s analogy of water. “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
Number 1 of the Ideology from the Sam Knowledge.
All behaviors are learned memories. Once learned through active
repetition, become stored in the sub-conscious mind and then become automatic
expressions of our personality and identity. The brain is highly malleable, and
behaviors changeable. We can learn and unlearn behaviors through acts of will
and volition and primed with repetition. Some behaviors stress our brain and
nervous system, while other behaviors make us feel energetic, positive, happy
and highly functional and, Super Able!
All of the 7 behaviors, the 42 ideologies and 3 incantations that represent the Sam Knowledge, once learned and become automatic responses, are designed to cultivate a non-reactive, highly rational and creative and energetic, functional level of mind.
So I say ~ Be the Behaviors.