Data Versus Truth

There I was, on stage at the PGA show last week with several other mental-performance coaches and authors, and one of them (a well-known psychologist) tells the audience that my contention that the human experience is created from inside to out is preposterous. Not only that, he claims that “the research” undoubtedly proves that circumstances and experiences do have the power to affect the feelings, states of mind, and lives of human beings.

Talk about a dilemma: Just as he made the statement above, a terribly insecure and frustrated feeling washed over me (frankly, I wanted to smack the guy). Hmm, was my feeling connected to circumstance (his statement), as he suggested? The data seemed to indicate that it was. Maybe he was right, after all.

Not so fast. I kept my bearings, and before you know it, I felt composed, assured, and relaxed. In spite of his attack, and the initial appearance that my upset resulted from it, I now experienced a deep inner peace. Rather than counterpunch, I waited for the microphone to come back around, and when it did, I shared what had effortlessly popped into my head: “An experience can’t create your state of mind because an experience is a projection of your state of mind.” And as I looked upon the audience, I sensed a collective aha moment set in.

Remember: Because it’s normal for it to look like circumstances or experiences cause our feelings, if measured, this outside-in trick of the mind actually appears provable (to me, the world of psychology has innocently made this mistake for years). But two things happening at the same time doesn’t prove causation. That’s why, when it comes to the human experience, knowing that it can only be generated from within, allows us to rise above bad feelings, not smack back, and, instead, point toward truth and connect with others from the heart.

P.S. Here’s one of several similar notes I’ve received from the audience since the PGA show. It reveals the power of this article’s message. GK

Good morning Garret,

I must say, first off, I appreciate you taking the time to speak at the open forum last night, sharing the universal truth of the inside-out paradigm with the coaching community. Facing much condemnation for what you shared, I thought you expressed and handled yourself quite well—something that someone who didn’t understand that his feelings are not caused by the actions of others would not have been able to do. In fact, it was so interesting that each speaker on the panel presented a few examples of what you were saying, and of the mind’s psychological immune system, without putting 2 + 2 together. They, unfortunately, attributed a fresh perspective or good feeling to a change of environment or mental strategy. I am currently in debate in my sports psychology class over external strategies such as positive affirmations, imagery, and so forth. But like you say, others will not realize what is actually working until they look within themselves. Seeing both the danger in falling for the outside-in illusion and that human beings can only work inside-out has completely transformed my life. From my golf game to my relationships, to my work ethic and helping me get past a few terrible addictions. I thank you for all the work you continue to do and look forward to seeing more future insights you may provide. And more insights from within myself as well!

Cheers

How Do I Know?

Every day, no exception, a reader, client, social-media friend, or critic will ask me some version of the following question:

How do you know, for sure, that the causes of our feelings are not found outside (in circumstance), and the cures for our feelings are not found outside (in coping strategies, tools, or techniques)?

Here’s my answer, and it’s not meant in a boastful way as my critics often contend: I just know. What follows is merely an attempt to put words to this knowing. So I’ll do my best, but make no promises; here goes:

Many years ago, immediately after I myself stopped looking outside for causes and cures (stopped listening to the experts I had turned to for help) and then rose above a painful period in my life, I made it my mission to find out why experts would offer the opposite of the advice contained in the question above. In other words, why would trained counselors, who were clearly trying to help, have me rummage through the personal events of my past? And why would they provide a surplus of coping strategies—pretty much take shots in the dark—when clearly this outside-in approach doesn’t cause relief or happiness? If psychology was indeed the working science that those in the field claimed it to be, wouldn’t there exist nonpersonal principles that explain the experience of all human beings? Wouldn’t there be universal laws that, no matter one’s biology, intellect, or personal history, would provide definitive answers for everyone?

What I encountered on this mission was amazing, clarifying, and oh so obvious (once I saw it): Unbeknownst to these experts, at the core of every religion, psychological doctrine, spiritual framework, sermon, moving story, song, or poem was this inspirational truth: Inner ups and downs, contradictions of the soul, are normal and thus cannot be strategically fixed. And although this changeable nature of our feelings appears to be connected to the events of our lives, it’s not. Specifically, I kept stumbling upon these seven simple words:

Look Within for the Answers You Seek.

And interestingly enough, I then started stumbling upon this sagacious message everywhere. The Beatles said: There will be an answer, let it be.” And I finally got the point! My golf coach reminded me: “Play with inner purpose, never for a score or the adulation of others.” And there it was! Even my grandmother loved to preach: “Now, Garret, don’t blame your internal ups and downs on external ups and downs. They’re not connected that way.” And there it was again!

No, I didn’t wake up one day and deliberately decide to look at the human experience in such black-and-white terms. I take zero percent credit for the fact that this insight calmly found me.

It’s just that in a split second, my life turned on a dime. I realized that while the approaches of the millions of helpers in the history of mankind have been vastly different, undeniably, there was this common thread or principle hidden (sometimes deeply) within all of them: Human beings work inside to out, not outside to in. Meaning, the causes of, and cures for, how we feel inside cannot be found outside in the illusionary world of form.

As one of these helpers, Sydney Banks, once said:

Trying to find answers by looking outside to this divine illusion we call life is a never-ending quest.

Like I said, I just know. My hope is for you to recognize that what you feel and experience is solely connected to what takes place on the inside. And, deep down, you know, too.

Garret

The Foundation

In my many years as coach or consultant, I’ve come across just about every psychological, motivational, or educational system on the market. Intellectual ones, zen ones; some born from research, some from life experience; some from trained experts, some from random dudes on social media. All of them well-meaning, most carefully considered, and some really good.

Here’s the thing, though, absent of a specific tidbit of universal knowledge—the foundation—even the shrewdest of systems will lack effectiveness. And sadly, in schools, books, lectures, and workshops all over the world, this foundation is missing.

What is this foundation?

That no matter how much it looks otherwise, the feelings of human beings are not the result of environment, the past, the actions of others, or anything on the outside. What human beings feel comes from thought. Today, the world is trapped in the misunderstanding, or illusion, that things on the outside do cause feelings. And this misunderstanding is drastically stunting our growth.

To illustrate, there are thousands of educational “foundations” across the globe. They provide funding for schools, supplies, teachers, coaches, even nourishment. However, most actually fail at a foundational level. That is, in order to bring out their best, young people must first grasp what they’re not being taught: that their best rests within them, only. Shiny new schools are valuable. But they don’t cause resilience. Or excellence. Or love. In fact, inadvertently, these kids are being pointed outside for answers. This requires a ton of intellectual analysis and effort—jamming the mind, obstructing realization, and, as I said, stunting growth.

The bottom line is that with any structure or process, a just foundation must be the starting point. That’s why, when it comes to psychology, motivation, or education, the foundation must be the thought-feeling connection—and the potent reminder that a circumstance-feeling connection doesn’t truly exist. Without this universal knowledge (and in spite of the best efforts of many), living up to potential will continue for human beings as a complete shot in the dark.

The Common Habit of Replacing Mistruth with Mistruth

You might not realize it, but every day, in a quest to ease our suffering, the self-help world encourage us to take mistruth and replace it with more mistruth. And since this obviously benefits no one, in this article, I’m going to point out some frequent examples of this and provide explanation for each.

As you move along from example to example, see if you can pick up on the truth that actually does replace all mistruth and, thus, benefits everyone. Here goes:

  1. Replacing “worry” with “positive self-talk.”

Worry comes from the normal build up of thought. It need not be replaced at all (it’s designed to subside on its own). In fact, deliberate self-talk requires more thought. This prevents worry from subsiding.

  1. Replacing “a focus on outcomes” with “a focus on process”.

While we all do it to a certain degree, looking outside for answers is extremely unhelpful to human beings. As most in the performance world acknowledge, outcomes are found outside. But guess what? Process is, too.

  1. Replacing “I’m a product of  my circumstances” with “I’m a product of my decisions.”

Because we all work inside-out, circumstances—the past, where we come from, a physical condition—do not determine our future. However, it’s not our decisions that do. How happy and productive a person’s life becomes and the value of a person’s decisions are both effects, or byproducts, of the extent to which that person understands the first sentence of this paragraph (that we experience life from inside to out).

  1. Replacing “fix your thoughts” with “acknowledge your thoughts.”

The human mind is built to self-correct. Both fixing thoughts and acknowledging thoughts (like self-talk above) are external strategies that work to our detriment. Why? Because they consume more thought and effort. This adds clutter, obstructing the human mind’s innate propensity to self-correct.

  1. Replacing “it’s that guy’s fault” with “look in the mirror.”

When we feel bad, it’s easy to look outside, rather than inside to our thinking in the moment, and pin it on someone else. But blame is blame. Most people don’t consider that they are on the outside, too. Therefore, self-blame is just another form of looking in the direction (outside) where answers cannot be found.

  1. Replacing “detention in schools” with “meditation class in schools.”

Again, the only thing that can elevate the consciousness of human beings is our innate propensity to self-correct (aka, “the psychological immune system”). And while the act of sitting in detention has no power to activate a young person’s psychological immune system, the act of meditation doesn’t either (that’s why, when we meditate, sometimes we feel good and sometimes we don’t). Quite simply, school children will easily ascend to clarity and calm to the degree they don’t employ strategies—including the act of meditation—to help them get there.

  1. Replacing “success drives my happiness” with “my family drives my happiness.”

Here’s a common one from the world of pro sports. Buying into the outside-in mistruth that success on the field causes happiness is an athlete’s shortest route to failure. What many miss, however, is that looking outside to one’s spouse, children, or parents for happiness causes failure, too. In other words, looking toward family as opposed to success makes no difference. It’s looking outside that gets us in hot water, regardless of where.

  1. Replacing “I don’t care if you’re the best” with “I just love watching you play or perform.”

At first glance, this advice to parents that’s currently making the social-media rounds sounds on-target. But no. Surely a parent’s love doesn’t depend on the performance level of his or her child. Yet love—the ultimate compound of clarity of mind, the ultimate truth—is a standalone entity. It has nothing to do with watching one’s child perform. Connecting love to the behavior of a child (or to anything on the outside) is never in anyone’s best interest.

  1. Replacing “A circumstance can make you feel a certain way” with “it’s your thoughts about a circumstance that makes you feel a certain way.”

This last one is tricky—even for spiritual teachers. While it’s a spiritual truth that our feelings are connected to our thinking, not to our circumstances, this doesn’t mean that our feelings are connected what we’re thinking about. Thought is spiritual energy. It fills our heads, it falls away—and this ebb and flow is the only thing we feel. In short, human beings don’t think in words. Thought, then feelings occur. The intellect then looks outside and manually attaches words, making it about something. Although it never really is.

There’s the list. Did you notice the constant? The one truth which replaces all mistruth? If not, here’s a hint: Every bad feeling—be it insecurity, anxiousness, frustration, anger, or apathy—is the result of looking outside for the cause of, and cure for, one’s feeling state. This means that since looking outside is the cause of bad feelings, we can’t feel better by cycling back outside (albeit to a different circumstance or strategy), again and again.

It’s pretty simple, actually: The only thing that prevents the psychological immune system from working is looking outside. Want to ease suffering? Then replace “looking outside” with “stop looking that way.” Or better yet, replace it with this age-old truth: “Look inside for the answers you seek.”

Thanks for reading,

Garret

Victims of Circumstance

Twice in a row. On consecutive calls last week, I had players tell me that their hockey teams had fallen victim to circumstance the night before. What does it mean to fall victim to circumstance? It means to examine a life situation, make a negative assumption about what’s going to take place, and then to manifest that result.

To be specific, since both players’ teams were competing in the second of back-to-back games on the road, players and coaches assumed that their teams would feel fatigued, lack energy, and perform poorly. And, as suggested, that’s exactly what happened.

So, using fatigue as the example, let’s rectify this commonplace misunderstanding.

The truth is that human beings can only feel their thinking. Meaning, fatigue is an effect of thought, not hockey games. Or said another way, there’s not a transmitter from an external circumstance (back-to-back games) to one’s feelings (fatigue). It doesn’t actually exist.

Need proof? Consider this: Have you ever been super tired and lacked energy, but then an emergency suddenly struck? Your need for sleep didn’t change as you sprung into action, did it? No. Your thinking changed, and so did your level of energy. That’s because a thought-feeling transmitter does actually exist.

As I said, the outside-in misunderstanding is common—and unfortunate. Most of us fail to grasp the alluring power of this innocent trick of the mind. I’ve seen coaches (in dealing with the same lack-of-sleep issue) ineffectively remove older players from lineups, thinking they can “fix” their team’s fatigue. I’ve also heard coaches claim that their players were getting outhustled by a more rested opponent when it just wasn’t true.

What you feel, and experience, is a projection of your own thinking and nothing else. If you believe it works the opposite (what occurs on the outside can cause you to feel a certain way on the inside), then you’re easily a victim. While, no matter the life situation or feeling, grasping that the human experience is created inside to out activates your innate capacity to rise above.

Love: It’s Not What You Think

Love is the stillness between thoughts.

Love is the safe space of wisdom.

Love is the clear light of creativity.

Love is the gentle attendant of fearlessness.

Love is the greatest gift of humanity.

Love generates the ideas that transform us and bring us peace.

Love recedes in the face of fear, but it does not disappear. It lodges deep in our hearts and faithfully awaits the moment of silence into which it will re-emerge.

When we open ourselves for even a moment to that silence, love never sleeps through it. Love shines into our minds and illuminates hope and possibility.

Love is the constant current that flows eternally beneath the turmoil of our thinking, the perfectly reliable movement stirring us to find comfort in the fluidity of life without getting distracted by the ups or downs.

No matter what we think about it, no matter the words we use, love is not what we think or what we say. Love is a spiritual force, the deep aliveness that is the essence of being before we think about it.

We are born in love. Just look at the innocent, bright-eyed curiosity and enthusiasm on any small child’s face, and you see that pure love. It is neither conditional nor specific. It is just unfettered engagement in life flowing through each person, most obvious before it is papered over by personal thinking.

We know it is at the heart of human experience because it is, and has always been, at the foundation of every significant religious framework we have known. It is the common good at the core of the experience of mankind. It is who we are before we think about who we are. It is the beautiful feeling most natural to us, before we learn to use our own power to think to fill our lives with the infinitude of possible experiences.

Love is like the pilot light of our emotional life. Feed it, and it burns where we need it. Starve it, and it flickers on, always ready, always there, always and ever the resource we have whenever we seek it.

We can turn our backs on love and nurture our personal emotional thinking whenever, and for however long, we choose. But as soon as we let it pass and look to quiet, love comes to light again. Love soothes us and draws us back into the dance of life, the easy movement with and around the other dancers, feeling the music of our common heartbeat and the joy of moving freely through time.

The Principles lead us back to love, to the purity of thought which offers us a non-judgmental fresh start moment-to-moment-to-moment. More and more people across the globe are drawn to see them at work behind life — the formless energy of mind pulsing through infinitude, the individual ability to think allowing each of us to make up whatever we want, the power of consciousness bringing those thoughts to awareness as our individual realities. More and more people are realizing that pure formless energy is love, and love is always the answer.

My love is like a red, red rose;

Its fragrance fills the air;

It guides me to a place of light,

Instead of dark despair.

                                                                                                                                   Sydney Banks

 

It is a good time in history to ask people to re-read the whole chapter on Love and Forgiveness in Sydney Banks’ The Missing Link., pp. 117-124.

As Mr. Banks reminded us, “A mind full of love and good feelings can never go wrong.”

 

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