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http://www.intuitivesoul.com/wp-content ... 280613.mp3
A few tidbits:
• Having a story is a dialog that you have basically about yourself. It’s the beliefs you have about yourself; it’s the expectations you have about yourself.
• And you can’t go out and manipulate the world so that you’re happy. We believe that we can. That’s why we spend so much energy doing it.
• You’re not always analyzing the past to see how you can better manipulate the future. You’re letting all of that go and you’re just living in the “now.”
• We need to stop living out of our intellect, stop judging, stop analyzing, and stop manipulating; which are all intellectual things. And just let the world happens as it happens.
• So if you try to go out and make happiness happen, you’ll just keep happiness from happening.
Laurie: We tend to have these stories that tend to decide how it is going to play out. We’re not seeing our relationships in how they are.
Tom: First let’s look at the concept of having a story. Having a story is a dialog that you have basically about yourself. It’s the beliefs you have about yourself; it’s the expectations you have about yourself. Things will happen - the way other people treat you, the way you will treat other people. All these things are beliefs and expectations. And just from the fact that it’s really about you. Your story is a story you make up about you, and it explains you. And generally, your story explains things like why you’re right and everybody else is wrong. But it does more than that. It is your running analysis and attitudes about what happens to you, and what has happened to you in life, and what’s likely to happen to you in life. I think that’s what’s called, “self focused.”
Just the fact that you have a story means that your world centers about you at the center. You say, “This is my story.” And that’s the problem. Because if you see life through a lens of your own story, then you’re seeing life through the lens of your ego. Your ego is generated by your fear. So if we think of your story that way, it is basically your fear, your beliefs, and your ego, that come together and makes a story about you. And that creates beliefs and expectations about the future. Then one can see why that doesn’t generally work for you and won’t get you very far. If you have such a story, then you will probably make that story come true. You will do, and say, and be, in a way that shows that you are self-focused. And that it is about you, and about your story, and how they’re going to fit in your story. You meet somebody and it’s, “How are they going to fit into my story?” If you have that kind of approach, then you are not going to do anything to fix the problem that’s really meaningful. You fix the problem not by coming at it from a self-focused viewpoint, but by coming at it from the viewpoint of love and caring. And you shift your focus from you and “your story” to other people. Try to understand their story and let your story go. Let, “their story” be the focus of your interest not “your story.” That’s the idea about “stories.”
When you say, “We all have our stories.” That’s because most of us, (ninety nine point nine, nine, nine percent of the population - almost all of us,) have a lot of ego and a lot of fear. And we go through life basically interacting with people by being nudged, by being pushed to do things, by being certain ways, by interpreting data in certain ways, and by coming to conclusions based on that ego and fear. And as long as we come at life from that direction, we will generally be dissatisfied and be unhappy. Life just won’t seem to work for us. There are always all these problems. As soon as we seem to get one problem solved, another problem jumps up to take its place. And that is because you are creating problems because of the way you are approaching life.
A lot of times people ask me for advice. “How should I do this?” “My girlfriend’s doing that.” “Now what should I do?” and so on. And I like to avoid giving people advice. I don’t like to be in that role of “advice giver.” Because what I find out is that people are looking for something to “do.” Something that will fix their life, or make life be some way they think is better, or make life in some way that is better for them. That’s what they want to do. And as long as they approach it that way, whatever I tell them is not going to work. It’s because they’re not really looking for a real solution. They’re looking for, (you know we talk about “paper tigers” aren’t real tigers,) a paper solution. They’re looking for a way to “feel” better but not a way to actually “be” better. What you have to change is yourself at the being level.
They don’t come to me and say, “Tom, how can I be better? How can I be a better person?” That’s not their problem. They’re focused on their story which is, “Tom, my girlfriend is doing this or that, or my wife, or my boss, or just life in general. And they’re doing all these things that upset me and make me unhappy. What can I do about fixing them; fixing my life?” They don’t focus on fixing themselves. It’s always about what they can change in the outside world to make them happier. And they want me to give them a prescription of something “to do”; whereas the real solution is really something “to be.” They have to change who they are. Often they’re people who go from one advice giver to the next. They’re asking everybody, “What do you think?” They’re reading all the books. They’re going to the courses, and the workshops, and reading things on the Internet. Because they’re looking for the right prescription of what to do - how to fix life to make it better. And it just doesn’t work like that. They should be trying to figure out how to fix themselves. Because if they could fix themselves and get rid of that fear and ego, then suddenly their life is a life of joy. It’s a life of positive things not negative things.
Laurie: Can we really get rid of our ego? Is there going to be a point in our existence where there is no such thing as an ego? Or does our ego just evolve with us?
Tom: No, we really can get rid of that ego, or at least almost get rid of that ego. Now getting rid of the ego doesn’t mean you no longer know who you are. You know, you have to pin your name on your shirt and look in the mirror to see who you are! That’s really not what ego is. Ego isn’t just an awareness of self. You can be self aware and not have an ego. The ego is defined in the “self” analyzing, judging, and doing things to make life the way “it” wants it - to adjust life to suit “it.” It is the analytical judging part of you that’s always trying to configure your reality to be more like you like it. It’s not, “I am.” That’s not ego that’s just an awareness of self. That’s not what we mean by ego. That, of course, is not a problem. You need to know who you are, and have an identity, and have a history; all that’s fine. Ego is an attachment to making things different in a way that it suits you better. The ego is, “I want”; “I need.” And yes, you can get rid of that. Ego is derived from fear. Fear is all about you. When you’re afraid, obviously, it’s about you. You’re afraid. Even if you say, “Well, I’m afraid for somebody else.” It’s still about you. When it’s about you it’s pointing at you. You’re focused on yourself. That’s why fear creates ego. It’s “self” focusing on how you manipulate the world to be more like you want it. And that is what’s not productive.
Laurie: Do we want to get to a place where we transcend the ego – that fear based place?
Tom: Yes we do. We want to get over that. We know if we’re unhappy, if we have things we don’t like, if we’re unhappy about it, if we think life needs to be better for us, and if we’re having what I call negative feelings rather than joyous positive feelings - then that’s an indicator that we have ego and fear. And you need to find the root of that feeling, “Why do I feel that way? Why is this negative? Why does this bother me?” And you will eventually, if you trace it back, find that it’s a fear. A fear that something isn’t going to be the way you want it, you need it, or the way you expect it to be. And it is you putting a demand on the outside world. That’s where the fear comes from, fear that a demand isn’t going to be met. Once you have those fears then you have to learn to let go of the fear. You have to approach “self” help as being ready and willing to change the “self,” and not to change the world to suit the self.
Laurie: There’s a lot of confusion about what ego really is and whether we can transcend it or whether it stays with us. A lot of people associate ego with identity.
Tom: That’s not the way I talk about ego. I guess everybody can have their own definition. But that’s not what I talk about when I talk about ego. I talk about getting rid of ego and obviously you don’t want to get rid of your identity. And when you get rid of fear the ego goes by itself. Obviously getting rid of fear doesn’t get rid of your identity. When the fear is all gone then the ego is all gone because the ego is a derivative of the fear. So that’s my sense of ego. It’s the part of the person that is trying to manipulate reality to be more the way it suits them. And in as much as it doesn’t suit them, or they’re afraid it doesn’t suit them, or it looks like it might not continue to suit them; then they have to change that world to be the way they want it. Or change it more the way they want it, or at least as much of way they want it as they can manage. That’s an ego trying to make life better for itself.
You’ve heard me say a lot of times, “Life is simple. Stuff happens and we get deal with it.” The important part, I say, is how you deal with it - not the stuff that happens. And this is a real simple way to look at the problem of stories. Your story is always about the stuff that happens. It’s all the stuff that has happened to you, and the stuff you think might happen to you in the future, and the whys, and the whereof, and the analysis, and the judging of that. But if we just let that go, it’s not what happens that’s significant to us in our growth. It’s how we deal with what happens. Just let the, “what happens” go by itself. Just say, “Well, whatever will happen, will happen.” Let go of the controls. Say, “I don’t really control anything. I can’t manipulate life to be the way I want it. So I just won’t try. I’ll just accept things that happen the way they happen. And then I’ll focus on dealing with them.”
Well, what does that equate to? That equates to living in the present, living in the “now.” You’re not always analyzing the past to see how you can better manipulate the future. You’re letting all of that go and you’re just living in the “now.” You’re making conscious choices of everything you do, and how you do it, and why you do it. So that simple idea of, “Stuff happens and we get to deal with it. And the important thing is how you deal with it.” Is another way of getting to the same idea of live in the present; live in the “now.” Just focus on what you’re doing now and doing it as well as you can, which means making the best choices you can. And if you do that the rest of life will take care of itself. That front end of what happens will suddenly get a lot better. The more we try and manipulate it generally the worse it is.
Laurie: If we just let things happen, which means we’re just in the “now” and not worrying about anything just looking at how to respond. Instead we see what happens as part of the story. We see what happens as, “Here’s my story happening again.” And then that’s when we start judging everything. And we put it in this box instead of allowing us to be this open vessel. Or getting out of this story, that we think that is happening around us all the time, when something happens to us.
Tom: Exactly, if you’re not focused on the what happens up on the front end, if you’re only focused on how can you best deal with it, (and how you best deal with it is - how do you deal with it to optimize what you can give to other people): that’s what the best choice is. The best choices are the ones that are about “other” not about you. But now that doesn’t mean that you are stupid. When I say, “Don’t worry about what happens up on the front end.” That doesn’t mean, “Don’t worry about who is going to pay your mortgage.” “Don’t worry about who is going to pick the kids up from school.” Of course I’m not talking about that. Just because you are fearless doesn’t mean you’re stupid. You can still live your life. You still have to think about things where you have responsibility; responsibilities that you have to do. Those are also part of your choices. But the difference is, yes you are going to have to figure out how you are going to pay your mortgage, and who is going pick your children up from school today. But that’s not really part of your story. That’s just the stuff you’re responsible for and what you do. That’s not the kind of story we’re talking about. Sure we all have obligations. And we all have responsibilities, and we need to meet those. And we need to pay attention to them. They’re important. But that’s just the stuff we do.
When I say “the stuff happens on the front end”; I mean all those things that you complain about, or you don’t like, or you think it would be better if you could change them. That’s all the stuff I’m talking about. That’s the stuff you need to just let go and focus on, “What can you give?” If somebody’s being grouchy to you or doing things you don’t like, think about “How can you make their life happier? What can you give to them that might make them more fun to be with?” And if there’s absolutely nothing you can do, because they’re just miserable people,well then don’t spend time with them. Go somewhere else. Don’t set yourself up for misery.
Laurie: And that’s an important thing. Because we do a lot of things out of obligation, especially when it’s family related or work related; where we think we have to. And then that sets us up to be completely miserable.
Tom: Yes, that’s a problem. Maybe you do if you have a responsibility. Let’s say you have a marriage that’s failed. And you just decided that the two of you are incompatible and you just cannot do this anymore. Well, it wouldn’t be the right thing to do to just disappear one day with the bank account. That’s not the way to do that. You still have responsibility. So, you need to talk about it. See if it can be fixed. See if changes can be made and so on. But if it comes to the point that it just is not a workable relationship, then you need to change it. You need to let go of it. It’s not healthy for you. You need to know when to just let it go.
Laurie: And again, hopefully, it’s just not the story you’re going to repeat. But that you’ve actually grown from it. That’s where it gets messy, or difficult, or challenging, because we give up a lot quicker these days.
Tom: Yes, people want to change the world. They want to change what’s going on out there; they want to change “others” rather than change themselves. And that’s a problem. And as long as their focused on how other people need to change in order for them to be happy, then they’re not going to be happy.
Laurie: And that’s really the thing you need to ask yourself is when things are going bad is it because you need to change somebody? Are you upset because somebody’s doing something to you? And as soon as you think somebody is doing something to you, it means you’ve made it personal. It becomes part of your story.
Tom: The truth is you’re upset because you choose to be upset. It’s your choice. You could choose not to be upset. Again, that is one of those choices. So you see that person doing something you don’t like, and that’s “the stuff that happens.”And the way you choose to deal with it is by being upset. That’s what you have to change. Those are the “choices” where you need to make better choices.
Laurie: It’s really about how do we stay “present” without the story impacting us? Because the story is usually something from the past, or fears about the future. And we weave it into so many areas in our lives we’re not aware we’re weaving it into. Staying “present” that’s what it is really about. It’s about not letting the judgments or the stories just happen. But when things happen to just really be present with them and not fall back.
Tom: It means that you accept rather than judge. It means that you embrace rather than manipulate. It means that you just “let be” rather than control. Those are the things you have to do. But if we look at the logical flow, we see that where we want to be is just living in the present. But the problem is the story. And we have the story because the story is basically an expression of our ego. And we have the ego because we have fear. So that kind of takes us back to the root. So if you work that chain backwards, (in order to really solve the problem with staying present, and dealing with life as it comes, and being able to let go, and not manipulate, and accept, and do all those things,) then you have to get rid of the fear. That is why we can’t accept because we don’t want it that way. And we can’t let go because we’re invested in it being some other way. And it all goes back to that fear.
And I know there’s lots of people out there that say, “OK, I got it - get rid of the fear. Now could you tell me what I should do?” It’s not a matter of doing. It’s not a recipe for you to do. It’s really that you have to take time to be serious about finding the fear. And any time you have one of those, “Ahhh, it doesn’t feel good.” moments, then find the fear of why it is it doesn’t feel good. And it may take a little digging to get all the way back to that fear. Because the first thing you’ll get is, “Well of course it doesn’t feel good because that’s not the way I want it.” Why is it that you have to have it that way? “Well, I have to have it that way because….” Just keep working your way back down that chain until you get to a fear that’s driving it all. And you can’t get break the cycle if you don’t get it at the root. You can chop the top of the plant off but it’s just going to grow back.
So you can force yourself for a few days to be real focused and present in what you’re doing, and that will be fine. But a week or two will go by and you’ll be right back the way you were. It won’t stick. It’s not real. You’re “acting” rather than “being” different – you’re acting differently. And the two are very different. So it really does go back to that fear. And you just have to examine every choice you make. If you choose to be angry, if you choose to be upset, if you choose to worry, all of those choices go back to a fear. Find the fear and try to get rid of it, let it go. You can live without that fear. And one of the ways you do that is basically tell the fear, “Give me your best shot.” What if what I’m really afraid of happens? “I’m afraid that people won’t like me.” “I’m afraid that I’ll be abused – people will use me (etcetera, etcetera.)” “I’m afraid I won’t get what I want.” Then go back to that fear and say, “OK, I might be abused. I won’t get what I want. I’ll just accept that. I’ll accept that and life will go on.” Well now you’ve pulled the teeth out of the fear. If you can accept the worst then the fear has no hold over you.
So that’s the way to attack the fear. So if you can actually get rid of that fear, and it’s not easy, just one time you can’t look at it and say, “Go away fear.” These fears are deep in your psyche. They take a lot of work. It may be months. You may spend the next six months just realizing what your fears are and working on them. But if you work at it, and you’re consistent, and you stay focused on the root of the problem, (not on the leaves or the downhill logical flow of the problem, if you focus on the root you will start to gain on it,) you will start to get rid of those fears. And what you’ll find out is even though the thing that used to happen, and you chose to be angry about, you no longer choose that. All of that negative stuff just starts to disappear because the fear is not there. And then your life goes from annoying to happy. It’s not all this stuff; what all these people do, and how my boss treats me, and how my husband or wife treats me, and yada, yada, yada, and how the neighbors are, and all the complaining, and all the problems. All of that disappears. And you can live very gracefully, with the things you have to live with, because it’s not about you anymore.
You are living in the present. You are making choices based on caring and love. People hear that and they say, “Yeah, not me. My life isn’t like that. I don’t have all that caring and love.” Well, it’s because you have to create that yourself. You don’t sit around and say, “Well, I’m just sitting here waiting for someone to care for me and love me. Do that to me.” That’s not how it works. You need to create that in your reality. You create it. You don’t sit around and wait for somebody to give it to you. You need to give it to other people. And as you give that to other people – give it away – you find that it comes back. That’s the way reality works. You don’t force reality to be the way you want it. You live your life the way it should be lived with positiveness, with love, and with caring. And then let everything else just happen the way it happens - accept it. And you’ll find what comes to you then on the other end is a lot of positiveness, happiness, and loving. Hard to believe but that’s the way it works.
Laurie: And mostly it’s because we don’t have that story then attached to it. If there’s nothing attached to it that’s why we can just allow it to be.
Tom: Exactly, so you just give up that story. The story is the problem. Well, the story is the symptom. The story isn’t really the problem. It’s a symptom of the problem. The fear is the problem. But the story is what gets in the way. It’s that end of the problem that we see, that we deal with. But most people are terrified to let go of their story. They feel if they let go of that story, who are they? That’s a very scary thing. So that’s the fear. The story is the fear. So you need to let go of that story. And not worry about all those things you worry about, and things that you fear, just accept them. See what happens. You’ll find that life will get better. But don’t expect to do this experiment in a day. You need to see what happens for weeks, for months, and eventually you’ll get the hang of it. But it is possible. And you can make your life change from kind of unhappy and misery and, “it doesn’t feel good,” to one that’s really good, if you just change yourself. You create your own reality in many, many ways.
Laurie: And let go of the justification because that’s what we’re trying to do, right? We’re trying to justify everything with this story.
Tom: Exactly, you know many people live out of their intellect. And the one thing we use our intellect for more than any other is to justify our story. “This is my story and I’m sticking to it.” right? And we justify it with our intellect. Why we’re right and everybody else isn’t treating us very well. That is what we use our intellect for more than any other thing. And that is not really very helpful to our growth, or to us living in a happy and fulfilling life. We need to stop living out of our intellect, stop judging, stop analyzing, and stop manipulating; which are all intellectual things. And just let the world happens as it happens. Deal with it. Deal with it without your anger. Deal with it out of caring and love. Make it about somebody else and not about you. Forget the story.
Laurie: It’s just what happens. And that’s where everybody is going to come up with examples like, “How can you just say that is just something that happens when somebody cheats, or when something happens to a child, or somebody is raped? How can you say that’s just something that happens?”
Tom: You know what I tell people like that? “How can you just say that good things will happen if I just care about other people?” Well, you’ve been trying it all these years the other way where you try to manipulate things to be the way you want them. You try to change other people; you want them to be the way you want them to be. And it hasn’t been working. So hey, if you keep doing what hasn’t been working, what are you going to get? You’re going to get something that still isn’t working. Just from that alone, give it a try. Try it the other way. Try it the opposite way. Instead of trying to manipulate, just be kind, be nice, care about people. Make them feel good and don’t care about what you get from it, and what’s going to happen to you. Let the ego go. And that will probably be coming from your intellect. You’ll be acting it to start with. But you have to move from “acting” it to actually “being” it. Because if you act it, that will work for a few days, maybe a few weeks, if you try hard. But it will crumble and go away. And then you’ll say, “See, I told you. It doesn’t work.” That’s not it. You have to be that way. So try it on. It can’t hurt. That is the way the world works. And your showing your life proves that it doesn’t work the other way. That if you try to manipulate your life to suit your story, it just doesn’t work out very well. Give it a try. I assure you that is the way it works. Positive creates positive. Negative creates negative. Your life will get much better if you can give up that fear that now is pushing you, and pulling you, all sorts of ways. “Well, I’m angry because she said …” It’s not because “she said”; it’s because you choose to be angry. Choose not to be angry. Choose to be helpful; choose to be caring.
Laurie: I think we have a definition problem with happiness. So why don’t you talk about happiness.
Tom: Happiness is not something that you can create directly. It’s not something that you can get your intellect, your control, and your ego, together and say, “Alright now, what do I need to be happy; and then I’ll go out and get it?” It doesn’t work. You think sometimes if you do that, it will work. You say, “If I just had more money I’d be happy.” You can get more money and you’re probably happy for a little while. But then basically you’re not happy either because it’s not about more money. Or, “if I just had a boyfriend” or “a girlfriend” or, “If I just had a husband who would bring me flowers.” Or whatever it is. If you had that you still wouldn’t be happy, because we don’t get happy by things. Things don’t make us happy. You find happiness as a byproduct of a life well lived. Happiness is what we get when we get rid of our fear, get rid of our ego, and get rid of our beliefs. We find that we’re happy. So if you try to go out and make happiness happen you’ll just keep happiness from happening. If your happiness is, “I’ll be happy when you…” “I’d be happy if you’d just…” It’s a conditional happiness.
What we’re doing there is thinking we’d be happy, if we could manipulate the world to be more the way we like it. But we would not be happy. You can’t make your wife happy by bringing her flowers. You might make her happy for the day. It might even make her happier for a week. But eventually bringing your wife flowers isn’t going to fix your relationship. It’s a temporary sort of thing. It doesn’t create real happiness. It just gets rid of some of the stress for awhile. So you can’t go out and create happiness. And you can’t go out and manipulate the world so that you’re happy. We believe that we can. That’s why we spend so much energy doing it. But you can’t. And that’s why so many people are frustrated and don’t find happiness. Because they’re trying to manipulate, they’re trying to control, and they’re trying to force their way to happiness. And it doesn’t work that way. You’re happy when you’re caring. You’re happy when you’re loving. You’re happy when you don’t have a story. You’re happy when you just accept life as it comes, and deal with it. Deal with it profitably, make good decisions. So that’s really where happiness comes from. It’s a byproduct. As long as you’re trying to be happy, “Well, if I get rid of this relationship and get another one, I’ll be happy.” “If I drop this husband and got a different husband I would be happy.” “If I got a different job I would be happy.”
Like I say, it does make you happy for a little while. But it doesn’t really make you happy. Because you’re still full of fear; you’re still full of ego. You got what you want, now. But very shortly you’ll have new wants, more wants, and more things that you need, so it will be better than it is right now. It never stops. It’s like a person who wants money, and they already have a hundred million dollars. What do they need most in the world – more money! It becomes an obsession, and people get obsessed with being happy. They go through a lot of partners and a lot of relationships. And, “Ah well this one didn’t make me happy. I’ll try another one.” They have to realize the reason they’re not happy isn’t because of those people that were supposed to make them happy, but didn’t. It’s because of what they’re doing and how they’re living their life. It’s because of their story, their fears, and their ego is why they’re not happy. You can’t make happiness by manipulating your way to it. It doesn’t work.
Laurie: And that’s where we get caught up in that definition of what we think happiness is - is really all these conditions we’ve placed on it. And, again, it becomes part of that story. So it’s really about freedom in a sense. It’s about standing in that moment. People talk about being grounded and balanced…
Tom: All of those things you’re talking about, being grounded, being balanced, living in the moment these are all different ways of saying, give up the ego, and to give up the ego you have to give up fear. So you can say that a hundred different ways but it all amounts to the same thing. Until you’ve eliminated that fear you won’t be happy. Well, that makes sense if you’re frightened, if you have fear, then you’re not happy – are you? If you let go of fear then you can be happy because now you start interpreting things in a positive way and not a negative way. It’s not about, “here’s what I want. How can I get it?” It’s about, “Here’s what I can give. Who can I give it to?”
Laurie: And you can give it to anybody.
Tom: Yes, and you can give it to anybody and everybody. And if you do that the happiness will come. It’s like I said, “You create your own reality.” You know, what did Gandhi say, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Well, be the person you that want to see in the world. In other words be happy. You want happiness then you have to be happy. You don’t get happiness by fixing the world. You get happy by fixing yourself.
 “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.” Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
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