What You Think

As soon as you can say what you think, and not what some other person has thought for you, you are on your way to being a remarkable man. – J.M. Barrie

When I can help a client or friend break the pattern of reactive behavior and thought and really express themselves authentically in their actions and behavior I know I have participated in something amazing.

The 1st 20 years of life or so we spend learning. Lessons from the family, community, culture, and faith we are born into are repeated and built upon until, by the time we graduate and enter the adult life we have taken in lessons that shape our world view, our interactions with others, and beliefs about the world at large that form our views of right and wrong, worthy and unworthy. When we enter the work force and find role models or mentors who have the kinds of life we want it is easy to just absorb their views into our own. It becomes much more difficult if we are constantly absorbing messages from the media or closed social circles.

If we are luck, someone along the way taught us to think about what we were learning. If we are really lucky we have had some real world experience that calls us to question our fundamental beliefs, to accept, discard, or form new ways of seeing things.

While “ignorance is bliss” it does not shape the character.

Knowing who you are, what you want, and being clear about what you think can be difficult when arriving at adulthood with so many years of programing. It takes work and a watchful eye on our behavior and thinking, especially when it is judgmental or critical of others.

It doesn’t mean we throw all of that out or need to rebel to become remarkable men and women.

It does mean we need to be clear and honest about our beliefs, especially to ourselves. Being able to separate my own view from the cultural one, claiming my values rather than accepting norms, and then aligning them with my actions with real integrity takes work and sacrifice. Sometimes it creates conflict with people who expect certain things or who knew me in the past when I was swimming in someone else stream.

Thinking is the process of trying to align thought and physical reality – realities about ourselves, our circumstances, our relationships, as well as the world, culture, and political environment we live in.

It is hard work and a challenging prospect if you are trying to do it alone.


Stating the Problem

The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution. – Bertrand Russell

This is one of the key benefits to using a coach, counselor, or having a friend or mentor that is skilled in these kinds of conversations.

Often when we try to approach a problem in our lives, particularly if we are too close to it or it is emotionally charged, we can struggle to find a view on the issue that is open enough to allow a solution.

Bertrand speaks of an isolated thinker. It is rare for someone to find the kind of time and solitude these days to really contemplate a difficult problem and find a resolutions, but it is possible for someone really dedicated to it. I have countless friends, clients and colleagues who I know have had problems and questions they have been trying to workout for years.

On the other hand, having another person, or network of people, with experience working through these kind problems can vastly expedite the process.

Having an outside view from an informed perspective, engaging in purposeful and meaning conversation on the problem, along with personal reflection an thought, can tease open our problems in a way that allows us to see them differently.

With new perspectives we can restate our knotted problems in new ways, which could allow for easier access to resolution.

Retreats and workshops help too…


Keeping a Record

By what strange law of mind is it that an idea long overlooked, and trodden under foot as a useless stone, suddenly sparkles out in new light, as a discovered diamond?” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

I’m not an avid journal keeper, more an occasional one, but there are real benefits to keeping some occasional record of our thought lives.

Like the quote above I have often gone back through earlier writing and found ideas laid out in short notes that I long ignored, but which I have found became central to my way of thinking years later. Even better are the epiphanies that are later revealed to have been connected in some way to ideas or beliefs I had previously discounted.

As we age our minds need to grow, our opinions and tastes mature, the tendencies of our nature reveal themselves through our actions, and world we live in and the people we are connected to change.

Oh, yeah, and our memory can get distorted and fuzzy.

When I work with clients I strongly encourage journaling. It is part of the coaching process. Our minds change as we process new information and engage in new forms of committed action. When we have some kind of record it is easier to see the changes we are going through.

Try to start some form journaling, recording your day, your memories, the thoughts that excited or troubled you. Write down your intentions and how you want to deal with difficult situations differently. Create a plan to follow through. Its helpful and proven instrument to effect change in your life.

Learn more, reach out for a free consultation.



Thought & Action

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.” – Buddha

“All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.” – Mao Tse-Tung

“If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.” – seemingly anonymous Zen proverb

Our lives are a constant dance between our thoughts and actions.

Our minds direct our actions. We plan, prepare, make choices and come to decisions. We look back and see our mistakes, hopefully learning from them.

But thought alone isn’t enough.

Our actions also shape our thinking.

There is koan type question I have heard often:

“3 frogs sit on a log. 2 decide to jump. How many frogs are still on the log?”

The answer of course is 3. They only made a decision…

Without action nothing happens, nothing changes.

Without action the limits of our experience and the data we have for our minds to process is limited.

We have no basis to make decisions without the knowledge of experience, of what happens when we do act.

And action without thought is equally dangerous. We rush in without looking at the bigger picture, without considering consequences and their impact.

Often when we are having problems or feel stuck in life it is because one of these two is dominating the other.

Either we are caught in our thinking, unable to make a decision or we are constantly reacting to the physical world without really contemplating what we really want to have happen.

Find ways to practice the dance’s most basic steps. Make deliberate choices and follow through with dedicated action. Review you actions and expand your perspective on what is possible, and what isn’t, on who is impacted, on how you are impacted, and how you can impact others.