Choosing not to believe in the love won’t protect you from it

You need someone who is for you.

No matter what you say or reveal to them, they’re on your side and want to help. Even if they disagree with or disapprove of what they hear, they still give you the space to speak your truth out loud, and they hold it with you from a vantage point of unconditional love.

Someone who isn’t afraid of your feelings and trusts that your suffering is not a contagious disease.

Someone who can be loving wherever you are.

But this type of love is very hard to receive. Most of us don’t trust it.

A comedian pal of mine once joked, you almost start to resent people for loving you when you hate yourself.

But that’s the job description of the beloved. They willingly sign up be someone who accepts everything broken in you. Someone who can give the love that they never got.

After all, it’s called falling in love because you fall. You lose control. It’s not rational. And that’s okay. Sometimes the rational brain doesn’t need to talk the emotional brain out of its own reality.

My friend recently got married and wrote a beautiful manifesto about this very experience:

We are brought to our knees at the prospect of this thing. This love that we are together. We have surrendered. With the two of us, there is no need for explanation of what we feel. Because it is as obvious and powerful as the movement of seasons.

If you knew that this love was displayed in front of you, if you became suddenly conscious of all that it represents, wouldn’t you arrange your time to meet its rhythm?

And not out of obligation or out of arrangement. But because you believe in what has been laid at your feet.

His words remind us that although we live in a rational age when the miraculous has become unacceptable, one truth still remains.

Choosing not to believe in love won’t protect us from it.

Love wears us all down eventually.

It brings us back home, back to the place where we started, reunited with the one.

May that love be our worst kept secret.

Who loves you enough to let you be the way you are?

Nothing to gain, nothing to escape, nothing to win, nothing to chase

Powerlessness elicits a nauseous sense of existential dread.

But it might also be the most liberating feature of the human condition.

Owning our powerlessness, accepting the fact that we cannot offer ourselves or those we love protection from danger and pain, it actually makes us stronger. Whereas a life revolving around trying to control and fix every goddamn person and situation is exhausting.

That’s the hallmark of people with strong boundaries. They are free to pursue their own dreams and aspirations with great concentration. Because they surrendered. They are not hell bent on eradicating feelings of powerlessness.

They actually enjoy them. They have faith that their lack of power doesn’t make them hopeless, helpless victims, but rather, focused, free victors.

Now, most people will resist this response to powerlessness, as it contradicts much of what we have been taught in our culture. From a very early age, we’ve been sold the story that we can do anything and fix everything if we just try harder and want it enough, soon we will start living like we used to dream.

But that’s not reality, that’s ego. That’s a commercial for a protein supplement.

The person who is free is the person who is surrendered to the wind and wherever it blows.

Nothing to gain, nothing to escape, nothing to win, nothing to chase.

Are you trying to control life or allowing it to flow abundantly through you?

When all suspicion had been forever laid to rest

Certain people are suspicious of all people.

They go out of their to find all sorts of reasons to write others off. And unfortunately, they’re usually right. Confirmation bias is a very powerful thing. When they encircle someone with suspicion, the idea of trust just starts to dissipate within that person. They prove themselves right every time.

And so, they just keep soldiering on with fierce independence, never learning to take the risk of trusting another human being.

The question is, would you rather be right or be lonely?

Because in the case of trust, that’s the often the cost. What we gain in ego we lose in connection.

Fact is, there is no magic moment when all suspicion will be forever laid to rest. Especially if you have a history of being hurt or abandoned, trust does not come naturally. It’s a tough nut to crack.

First, because trust is about surrendering control. It means making yourself vulnerable to another person’s actions.

Second, because trust is about expressing neediness. It means reaching out to depend on and see others as the source of good things.

And finally, because trust is about actively engaging with the unknown. It means demanding less and less certainty from life.

However, none of those risks are worse than being lonely.

Not sure about you, I don’t want to fear humans. I prefer to think the best of people, to see everyone as good until proven otherwise, in the hopes that my belief will encourage them to reveal their better selves.

Frankly, it’s less work. Better to be occasionally disappointed than to walk around with my guard up all the time. Shields are heavy. My arms aren’t that strong.

Hunkering down into the awful safety of loneliness always seems like a good idea at first, until you realize that you’ve been watching television for seven straight hours without interacting with another human being.

How do you perpetuate your own disconnection and loneliness?

Introducing a new level of pressure

Recording music in a studio is a fascinating and stressful experience.

Having released eleven albums in my career, it’s funny how every time studio day comes, the butterflies still get into formation.

Scientifically, it’s because of the observer effect. It states that the act of observation has an effect on the thing being observed.

Ask any professional recording artist. When every move you make is put on wax, it introduces a level of pressure far greater than simply jamming with friends or performing live. Not to mention, studio time is expensive.

But the other component of the fascination and stress comes from something more spiritual.

Because when you’re standing there alone and naked, bearing your soul in front of a microphone, you have to trust so many things.

You have to trust your brain to remember the music and lyrics that you composed two years ago.

You have to trust your fingers to hit the strings at just the right time.

You have to trust your instrument to allow the songs to emerge in the most meaningful way.

You have to trust your equipment to capture the performance in the most efficient way.

You have to trust your spontaneous instinctual abilities to adjust songs on the fly.

You have to trust your recording engineer to tell you when your pitch or rhythm has veered off the runway.

You have to trust your ears during playback that you’ll be satisfied with the take and not stuck in a state of artistic indecisiveness.

You have to trust your heart that perfection doesn’t exist, you’re doing the best you can, and the album is going to come out great no matter what.

No wonder it’s so exhausting.

But that’s the beauty of the experience. It’s a profound exercise in trust.

And since most artists only go into the studio every few years, whenever that moment comes, it’s always worth it.

P.S. My new album, Altars of Enough, is out! Enjoy.

Nobody deserves anything, so have gratitude for everything

Deserve is a problematic word.

For centuries, we have been justifying all sorts of awful behavior simply because we accept the belief that certain people receive more or less because they deserve it.

Deserving is nice story to help make sense of the world. But the reality is, nobody actually deserves anything. The gods have not chosen any of us. The idea of people getting what they deserve might work in a logical and rational world, but that only exists in the movies.

Bodine writes in her book of healing that whenever we judge whether or not we deserve something, we are usually applying other people’s standards.

The word deserve is about rewards, punishments, guilt and shame. It is about conditional love, which isn’t love at all.

One tactic to try is language substitution, a favorite of cognitive behavioral therapists. They recommend substituting irrational thinking for more realistic preferences.

For instance, instead of saying you deserve something, say you’re worthy of something.

Feel the difference of those two phrases as they come out of your mouth. The reason it likely feels better is, worthiness not some external demand or expectation about what the world should give you. It’s an internal state, one that exists right now, one over which you have legitimate ownership. 

Ellis, one of my favorite psychotherapists, used to write about how deserving the equivalent of directly challenging the truth of a situation in favor of what we wanted the truth to be. The word deserve focuses our attention on what we think should be, rather than what is.

Imagine a life not loaded down with the heaviness of feeling so unworthy.

Imagine not spending our lives trying to use externals to override our inner sense of unworthiness. Sounds pretty chill to me.

One last point on this word from the greatest sports agent in history.

Jerry Maguire says to his client, the great football receiver:

On the field, it’s about what you didn’t get. Who’s to blame, who underthrew, who has the contract you don’t, who’s not giving you love, that is not what inspires people. Just shut up. Play the game from your heart. Then I’ll show you the kwan.

Our days of keeping count of what we feel entitled to are over.

May we accept that nobody deserve anything, and may we learn to have gratitude for everything. 

Are you still keeping count of what you feel you’re entitled to?

Beyond the culturally prescribed forms of courage

Carlin famously joked:

School was nothing but the indoctrination center where children were sent to be stripped of their individuality and turned into an obedient, soul dead conformist member of the American consumer culture.

That’s not a punchline, that’s perspective.

Because his joke is not really about school, it’s about sovereignty.

George’s words are a rebellious reminder about how our culture is very good at hypnotizing and dulling our consciousness. The world has a profound ability to completely indoctrinate us with its deluded model of happiness.

And we don’t have to say yes. We don’t have to lock into the brainwashed standardized masses and degrade into zombified morons who blindly accept whatever simplistic fairy tales are fed to us.

There’s still time to wake up.

Here’s a question that is helpful for tapping into our authenticity.

Which attitudes and courses of action do you reject that most people treat as gospel?

Everyone has one. Or several. And the key is making yourself aware of that disconnect, so you can start to feel empowered to advocate for the person you truly are, and not the one the world thinks you’re supposed to be.

Listen, most governments, religions, businesses, media and other institutions have the same hidden agenda. Keeping humanity small, scared, stupid and dreamless. Because it’s in their best interest to preserve the cultural trance that keeps us all distracted.

And so, if you are growing tired of watching the masses sleepwalk through life like pathetic automatons, you’re not alone. You’re not wrong.

Channel that anger to fuel yourself to effectively and elegantly opt out of most of society’s expectations.

And you’ll discover that freedom is closer than you think. 

What if conventional wisdom was proven to be only a perspective, one that could be mistaken?

Pushed over a cliff by morons

We live in a world where stupidity is encouraged, embraced, rewarded and repeated.

As if it were some kind of virtue. Everywhere we look, from individual people to mass media to large institutions, the world seems to be conspiring to put out our collective intellectual fire.

Our environments are pressuring us not to think.

Flip through the channels or the streams, and one thing is clear. Stupidity has become the hearth around which our society warms itself. Dilbert put this trend into perspective years ago, and today his insight is eerily prescient. He writes:

The majority of resources in a capitalist system are being pushed over a cliff by morons. It’s clearly the reason that humans rule the earth. Because we found a system to harness the power of stupid. Whereas in the rest of the animal kingdom, being a moron is nothing but bad. A moron lion, as an example, who can’t catch anything to eat, is adding nothing to the lion economy.

But a moron human who starts a business selling garlic flavored mittens is stimulating the economy.

This stupidity trend makes me feel sad and angry. As if all the work invested in the development of our intellectual curiosity is wasted.

After all, why transform into better versions of ourselves when we could get promoted by being an idiot?

Why act smart when there are literally millions of dopamine producing distractions to reward our ignorance?

Why set ourselves up for a barrage of scorn and ridicule, when we can use stupidity to fit in and get along?

I don’t have a solution to this problem. But for the time being, let’s become more aware that the world is very good at hypnotizing and dulling our consciousness.

And let’s accept that we’re all being chemically rewarded for allowing ourselves to be brainwashed.

Perhaps that’s a good first step for shifting our outside locus of control back within our own right thinking minds.

What are you doing that’s responsible but stupid?

You don’t really want to know, you want to be fooled

Barnum knew that the public didn’t mind being lied to, as long as those lies were more sensational and entertaining than the dull, everyday truth of their miserable lives.

He may have been a hoaxer, but he still added something to the way the world was that made it more tolerable. As he says in his movie:

Hyperbole isn’t the worst crime. Men suffer more from imagining too little than too much.

Nolan makes a similar point in his movie about magic:

People are happy to be mystified. Because the audience knows the truth. The world is simple. It’s miserable, solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, then you can make them wonder, and then you got to see something really special.

That’s the beauty of magicians. They’re honest in that they tell us they are going to fool us, and then they do it, and then we eat up and burp gasps of delight.

Lies leap from their lips faster than a kiss. What’s not to like?

Point being, instead of growing outraged anytime somebody lies to us, pretending that we’re the only noble arbiters of moral rectitude, perhaps we should agree on one of the few truths that exist.

We live in a contradictory, unfathomable and absurd world, and our primitive brains have to construct mythologies, stories and lies to help us cope with it.

In a post truth society where fake news and alternative facts have become the norm, honesty is not always the best policy.

What do you risk putting your heart out into the thick tangle of the truth?

Letting go of the number of people who don’t love you

Ellis writes in his book on anger that our irrational beliefs are what upsets us most.

Especially in our relationships. If we have convinced ourselves that we must have sincere love and approval almost all the time from virtually all the people who we find significant in our lives, then we are in for a rude awakening.

Because apparently, that is not the way life works. Having raged for those who did not love us is exhausting, worst and most of all, stressful.

In fact, some people spend their whole lives doing this, paralyzed, worrying about what people will think about their heart. Just talking to them makes you want to take a nap.

On the other hand, some people spend their whole lives blissfully oblivious with the love that they own, the love that is theirs, the love that belongs to them, the love that nobody has the right to take away.

Kauffman writes about this in his inspiring film about adaptation:

You can love whoever you want, and if people think you’re pathetic, then that’s their business, not yours. You are what you love, not what loves you.

What a gorgeous and difficult practice.

Have you ever tried letting go of the number of people who don’t love you? Have you ever treated the act of loving as its own reward? Have you ever loved people without caring if they love you in return?

Good luck. The ego howls in protest. Because its job is to hide all vulnerability.

What do you mean people don’t even have to want your love back? Are you crazy?

Maybe. But although the thing we’re all looking for in this brief life can be described by the word love, it’s amazing how little we have to travel to find it. 

What if your love was your worst kept secret?

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