Thought and Control

Here’s an interesting question that I was asked three times, just last week: “Why, as the years go by, do you seem to talk less and less about the principle of thought?” The answer is: At some point, it became clear to me that since human beings have so many conditioned or programmed ideas around THOUGHT, THOUGHTS, or THINKING, I’d be better off pointing to the power of this creative principle in another manner.

In other words, the man-made theory that we have the ability to control thought is so pervasive—and thus so personal—that, in my mind, there are diminishing returns in suggesting: “Your experience and feelings are 100 percent coming from thought, or thought in the moment, or the form your thinking is taking in the moment” . . . you know what I mean.

Now don’t get me wrong. 100 percent of your experience IS coming from the principle of thought in the moment. But I’m in the coaching or helping-to-bring-out-the-best-in-others business; not the perfect-explanation business. My role is to expose how thought works sans the false implication that those I’m talking to possess the personal power to control it. Reason being: The illusion of personal control is the source of all suffering and, for the most part, people have trouble disassociating THOUGHT and CONTROL.

So how’s it done? How do I point others to the fact that they work from the inside-out or that their thinking, rather than circumstance, is causing their experience of life? Well, for those who don’t know, I liken the principle of thought to energy—spiritual or divine. Most people simply don’t view energy as something they’re in charge of. Therefore, reminding them that their feeling state is derived from energy coming and going within—and not from the outside—has proven effective.

Remember: In this article, I’m merely revealing what’s logical to me, and what appears to be helpful to those with whom I work. I’m not suggesting that energy is the right word or that this is the way I’ll always see it. For now, however, describing the indescribable (thought) starts with the stripping away of conditioned definitions, word associations, and habits. Thought management is so culturally ingrained that it makes sense to consider a different path inward. At least it does to me. Perhaps, in your own way, it will to you, too.

Thanks for reading (and considering),

The Meaning of Inside-Out

Today, I offer you good news and not-so-good news.

First, the good: As I travel around, speaking to teams, organizations, and audiences, it’s obvious that more and more people are relating to, and even promoting, the spiritual principle that human beings create their experience from inside to out.

Now, the not-so-good: Many teams, organizations, and audiences are missing the mark when it comes to what inside-out truly means.

That’s why, in this article, I’m going to do my best to clarify.

Let’s start with this question regarding the second half of the term inside-out: What does “out,” or the outside, actually point to? The answer is anything not on the inside (I know that’s obvious, but hang in with me here). We’re talking about the circumstances of your life, other people, environments, events, the past, and the future. They are all outside.

Make sense? Cool. Let’s keep going.

But what if I also mentioned that the person reading this article—YOU—is on the outside, too? That’s right; you, your behavior, looks, health, brain, belief system, values, aspirations, character, and personality (you and everything about you) are all elements of the same outside I detailed above.

In other words, when I, or anyone, remind you that the human experience evolves from the inside-out, I’m not saying that you are inside and everything else, and everyone else, is outside. I’m not saying that you and the world are separate. I’m not saying something along the lines of, “In a negative situation, you can be positive since you work from the inside-out.” Not at all.

Rather, I’m saying that you are part of the outside world of form that’s 100 percent created and projected from the inside (hence the term inside-out).

So, then, what exactly is the “inside” from which this outside world of form springs?

The answer, and please don’t get hung up by the word here, is God. It’s God (mind, soul, spirit, greater intelligence, higher power or purpose—pick your word) that determines your feeling state and the ensuing reality that you see. Again, you are outside. The kingdom of God rests inside. It’s God, not you, that determines your mood, outlook, and choices; your failures and successes; your ebbs and your flows. The not-so-good news described earlier is caused by the misunderstanding that the burden is on you, when the burden, the one who’s flying the plane, lies within you.

You are outside; God is inside. Now, hopefully, that’s all cleared up.


The Cause of Confusion

The other night, a usually composed but, at that moment, irate hockey coach called me at home. He claimed that he needed to get off his chest all the things about his team that where causing his head to spin. We’re talking about poor body language, trouble with punctuality, disrespect for his staff, low effort level, and dumb mistakes. On and on, he kept finding more and more problems with his players as his confusion got worse and worse.

I listened for about five minutes and then gently interrupted him, posing this basic question: “Coach, what’s the only thing that can cause the feeling of confusion within a human being?”

He shot back, “I don’t give a shit about feelings. These guys are really talented, but I’ll sit them all if they don’t get their act together.”

I suggested, “Why don’t we talk tomorrow.”

But then, fortunately, things began to shift. “Wait, G, sorry about that. Let me try to answer your question. Hmm, the only thing that can cause a feeling in me is . . . me. Am I on the right track?”

“Well, sort of, but not exactly. Consider it like this: Deep down, we all know that nothing or no one, including ourselves, can make us feel a certain way. However, it almost always looks like our feelings are either the result of the actions of others or our own actions and decisions. And this fundamental conflict between truth (we work from in to out) and illusion (we work from out to in) is enough to drive anyone mad.”

“So, my players aren’t the cause of my confusion, but it’s not my fault either?”

“Exactly, cool insight. Both you and your players are on the outside. And, again, feelings are an inside job. They’re simply spiritual energy that comes and goes.

“Wow. So confusion is a normal part of being human?”

“Amen. We’re born in peace. We look outside for the cause of this wonderful feeling—we find confusion. We feel confusion. We look outside for the cause of this wayward feeling—we find more confusion. We wake up to the truth that feelings come and go independent of what happens on the outside, or we turn back inside like you just did—and confusion disappears. And then the cycle, or the wonderful totality of the human experience, churns up all over again.”

“Glad we spoke, G. It’s cool to understand that my unpredictable feelings are actually normal and no one’s fault. Can’t wait to get to work with my team tomorrow!”

“Love it, coach. The understanding you just mentioned is the most important thing we can share with others. Point your players in that direction and let your season play out from there.”

“You got it. Call you after practice.”

“Talk then.”

One cause of confusion (misunderstanding). One cure (understanding). Always.

Thank you for reading,

THOUGHT vs. thought

A lot of misunderstanding about the idea of “thought” pervades our work in the Three Principles. I’d like to draw a very clear distinction.

When people talk about “thought” in terms of what we have thought, the content of our thinking, we are not talking about the Principle of Thought. The Principle of Thought describes the formless energy (described by the Principle MIND) that flows through all life, our life, that empowers us to create “thoughts”. THOUGHT is energy, the spiritual, creative force of generating ideas about life. Once we have used that energy to form our own ideas, our particular “thoughts” look real to us while they are our minds, a fact described by the Principle CONSCIOUSNESS, the power to be aware of what we see in our mind’s eye.

Quite often, people who understand this distinction might refer to each person’s individual thoughts as “just a thought,” without any realization of how dismissive and insulting that might sound to someone who did NOT understand the Principle of THOUGHT. I remember clearly the first time someone said this to me, early on years ago when I was really looking to grasp the profound nature of seeing THOUGHT as a power, a formless energy that set me free to create my own life and navigate it, free from external pressure. At a time when I was struggling to step into the unknown, and expressing doubts, a woman I knew casually said, “Oh, that’s just a thought. Let it go!” In the state of mind I was in, that left me infuriated and frustrated. It didn’t matter to me at that moment that what she said was true, because it was only true for anyone who has seen deeply enough not to take thought content seriously. At that moment, it felt like I was being judged and found wanting. I see-sawed between fearing that I was wrong and stupid to be upset and thinking that she was just mean-spirited and didn’t understand me at all.

Once I saw more deeply, I realized for myself that when people have upsetting, doubt-filled thoughts, those thoughts are a temporary reality, but knowing they are thoughts coming from within our own minds, they don’t seem important. They, like all thoughts, are understood to be transitory, part of the flow of ideas that create our moment-to-moment experience of life. We know for ourselves that they are “just thoughts,” images we’ve created. When we know it for ourselves, we know not to take any particular thoughts seriously; we know we are always thinking; we know we can think for ourselves; we know we can turn our backs on thoughts that are bringing us into dark emotional places and quiet our minds and think again.

But, here’s what’s important, WE know it from our own insights. No one can tell us something is “just a thought” because, until we see it for ourselves, it looks like an important reality that consumes our awareness while those thoughts are on our minds.

What I have been humbled, again and again, to learn over the 30+ years I have been involved in this work is that everyone can see this for themselves because all human beings are innately resilient and spiritually whole, no matter where our thoughts have taken us in life. But no one can make another person see it. Our role is to show love and respect for people and to truly see the humanity in them, the health and wholeness in them, to see that, regardless of their habitual thinking or their lack of seeing their own power to think, they are intrinsically and simply complete human beings. As people come to peace and quiet in the presence of unconditional love and respect, we can count on their own wisdom to start to surface, and for insights to bubble up. They set themselves free. And then we can celebrate that with them and explain it so that the logic of it is clear and they incrementally gain confidence in their own wise insights.

That is why, in the world of our work, clients often say we “didn’t do that much.” That’s the joy of it. There isn’t that much to do because wisdom is the coin of the realm, shared by all. We may have beckoned to it, but the clients welcomed it and made it their companion and guide.







Why. Bad. Things.

Virtually every day, I’m asked some form of this question:

“Why do bad things happen?”

From a hard-working pro golfer failing to earn his or her tour card by a single stroke, to a horrific and deeply tragic event like what just took place in Las Vegas, why must innocent people suffer?

The answer is: We don’t have all the answers. But what I can tell you is this:

In the heat of the moment, or in the midst of suffering, nothing will make sense. Yet, from distance (if gained), we’ll find perspective.

Now, I surely don’t make this statement to make light of suffering, or to say that wounds don’t run deep. I make it to remind you that suffering is purely a figment of thought and one’s ensuing state of consciousness at that moment in time. When, for example, my thinking takes me back to childhood trauma, I suffer massively. When I get some distance from this train of thinking, I don’t. Again, the events of my childhood are what they are. What’s variable are my thinking and state of consciousness, which cause me to suffer or not to suffer.

Equally fascinating about “why bad things happen” is that, from distance and perspective, it’s common for people to describe the experience of suffering as a path to growth or even enlightenment. It’s as if suffering is part of a universal intelligence or greater plan at work; since, in suffering’s wake, so many of us become more resilient, connected, and loving.

Finally, I want to make clear that this article is not meant to ease suffering (that’s simply not possible); it’s meant to explain it. Suffering occurs when human beings do what human beings do: look outside—to circumstance, the past, other people, or ourselves—in a quest to figure out why we feel what we feel. Salvation occurs when human beings do what human beings also do: wake up to the folly in looking outside and turn back WITHIN.

In other words, the more we grasp just how normal the normal ebb and flow of the human experience truly is, the less our feelings will matter to us, the less we’ll struggle with struggle, and the less we’ll ask “why.”

Hang in everyone. Love,

So You Want Control?

This might surprise you, but a big part of my job is to remind people that the onus of control, decision making, effort, and even results is NOT truly on them. Every human being is an extension of a higher power. And, in my experience, when this spiritual truth is recognized, nearly everyone feels an overwhelming sense of freedom and relief. I say nearly because, occasionally, a new client or member of an audience I’m addressing will shoot back with this type of concern:

“That’s the problem, Garret. I want control. I must be in charge of my own destiny.”

In fact, just the other day, I was conducting a workshop when those very words were flung my way. I then countered with the following statement, which just poured out of me:

“Okay, my friend, you got it. I’m going to play exalted ruler and decree that you’re in total control of your life. Your thoughts, state of mind, decisions, and all outcomes are on YOU. No instinct or intuition. Every move you make must now be deliberate and calculated. You, and you alone, are driving the bus.”

What’s funny, or better yet unfortunate, is that this type of coaching paradigm is extremely common today. Many coaches and motivational gurus actually point others toward the concept of personal control or burden. And the ultimate result? Confusion, since everyone’s life contains a surplus of serendipitous or unexplainable occurrences that clearly take place out of our control. In sport, for example, athletes often describe their finest moments with words like, “I can’t believe that just happened, out of nowhere, or that was so effortless.” In those moments, control is the furthest thing from their minds.

Meanwhile, back to the man from the workshop. When ordained with complete control, he first replied, “Thanks, perfect.” But then, as concern and doubt flowed though him, he chuckled and pulled a 180: “Hang on, Garret, I assume that we can’t have it both ways (control some things, but not others), so no deal!”

Indeed, we can’t have it both ways because it doesn’t work both ways. As suggested earlier, you and a higher power aren’t separate; you are ONE. Meaning, trying to assume personal control—over anything—is simply not possible.

What a relief.