What I’m about to say isn’t going to make me very popular in the very industry I’m part of now that I have published a self-improvement book. But it’s true for me and this is my blog so that’s what I’m here to share. I don’t read a lot of help-self books anymore. In fact, I almost stopped reading that genre of books completely about fifteen years ago because I was bored out of my tree. It seemed like they were all saying the same thing and while I understood the concepts and thought that if I could live in a cave and not deal with a single person, I could create the idealistic and perfect world these books suggested, I was unlikely to do that. I wanted to read a book that helped me navigate my way in the real world; the one that involved other people. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I’d love to live in a cave and avoid people forever but for the majority of time I love the human aspect in us all.
Waking Up to the Real Life
The awakening for me that life wasn’t perfect and really never will be came after reading The Celestine Prophecy, then the workbook and trying to apply the theory into my life. My girlfriend Josie and I went off into the forest looking for tree auras and everything. We loved the idea that life could be perfect. But those moments of clarity soon got swallowed up in living, working, and interacting with those in our lives.
I then read Dan Millman’s ‘The Way of the Peaceful Warrior’ and realised that what I did each day was where my lesson’s laid and was my spirituality. All of a sudden, I didn’t have to be perfect and neither did anyone else around me. Working was how I could ground my spiritual journey just as was participating in my community, family, and with friends. What I did each day was my journey. I didn’t need to do anything outside of it to find myself. Who I was lived in the actions I took every minute of every day?
I still remember being told by a friend that I was creating drama in my life by being an active member of my community through the committees I was on and that if I really wanted to evolve spiritually then I needed to stop being around ‘those’ kind of people and only associate with enlightened souls. At the time I thought it was a rather un-enlightened statement because it was judgemental, narrow-minded, arrogant, and elitist. That reflected my need to protect people due to my tendency to experience traumatic shame so easily. Today I would just smile to myself and think ‘each to their own!’
I’m a passionate member of my community. I love the town I live in and wherever I go people know about the little town of Drouin because I think it is a beautiful part of the world and nurtures my soul. But beyond that I believe in leaving this world in a better state; I believe in being a responsible citizen to my local community, wider society, and global family. I belong here and I have a responsibility to everyone else who walks this earth with me. I also believe every person matters and that helping those less well off than myself is an honourable thing to do. I care about people and if I can do my part to make this community, this country, and this world a gentler, more loving, and supportive place then I will do just that.
For me this is my spiritual journey, and it is how I live out my purpose in life. If I were to go live in a cave starring at my belly button, I would not be living true to myself at all.
Dealing with a Variety of People is Life
Does that mean that I have to deal with Mistletoe people? Yes. Does that mean that I have to deal with Snowballers? Yes. Does that mean that I have to deal with people with an insufficiency mentality? Yes. Does it mean that I have to deal with the peacemakers of the world? Yes.
As I say in Making Sense of the Insensible, injustice comes to us in three ways – how others treat us, how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. I learn about who I am each time I deal with the varying personalities that make up our human race. I learn about people and what makes them tick, what motivates them, and what intentions they have. It is spirituality in action. Why would I want to avoid this? It is the rich tapestry of life itself.
When I stopped reading self-help books, I began reading business books that explored more about how to manage your life. They didn’t have the same twist of perfection about them. After a few years I realised that I wanted to write my own book exploring the real life of challenges, injustice, and unfairness. I wanted to explore how we can grow through those very experiences. But I also wanted to discuss the reality that challenges don’t stop existing in our lives. We will always have challenges – they may change, as will our response to them and what once challenged us may not even bother us now, but life is an on-going adventure of learning and growing. That’s what makes life fun. I wanted to write a book that allowed people to embrace life and what came with it rather than judge it, set rules about it, and resist the processes.
Same Message in Different Covers
Occasionally my ears will prick up when I hear about the latest self-help book, and I will buy it to read. Over twenty-five years the same core message is still being preached no matter how it is coated. The authors will share with you their experiences or those of their clients. They will tell you what we all do and then they will change pronouns and tell ‘you’ where ‘you’ have gone wrong and how ‘you’ now need to act, think, and feel to get it right and perfect. I force myself to read to the end of the book and fill pages in my personal journal with my frustrations with the superiority inlaid in the pages. It turns out that reading self-help books provide me with lessons in injustice.
In all the work I do – courses, workshops, practitioner training, one-on-one with clients and with the writing of my books – I have one message to share. We all experience all ten injustices and we all do them to someone, someone does them to us, and we will internalise our experiences and treat ourselves in ways that are unfair. That’s life! There is no perfect way to be. There are no right rules. There is just what there is. But we can heal. We can grow. We can get better at being ourselves.
There are so many words that sum up my approach to life. Three favourites are – choice, growth, and responsibility. I could add in acceptance, tolerance, compassion, empathy, love, support…what words sum up your approach to life?