Sticks and Stones

"You care about what people think about you. I know you care," my friend told me. Not said. But told.

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I was making fun of her friend who hates my guts. She seems to have a level of Asperger's syndrome. If you're a fan of The Big Bang Theory, the character Sheldon Cooper suffers from it. He's socially awkward and has a hard time reading people.

I said, "Your friend definitely cares about what people think of her."

"No. She just hates you."

"She told you not to invite me to a networking event. That means she cares."

My friend thought for a moment. "She doesn't want to be associated with you among business people."

Smiling, I nod. "She cares."

Then my friend went on a calm tirade, telling me that I care about what people think about me. She assured me over and over that I did.

No. In general, I don't.

I have an acquaintance at the gym. One day, she was telling me about a guy who was hitting on her. And she shucked him off because she was not interested.

"Don't you feel good when a guy hits on you?" I asked.

She shrugged. "I know I look good." She does. "But I feel safe with you."

"I’m not menacing to you?"

"Well, if you're gay, then I'm safe. You won't hurt me."

I was like…

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"Yea. If you're gay, that's OK. I'm safe."

I wasn't sure why she jumped from feeling good about herself to assuming I was gay. I wanted to get back to my workout and didn't want to put forth the effort to tell her that I wasn't.

Many people initially think I'm a woman because I have long hair. I don't correct them. Their mistaken assumption won't make my penis fall off. At least, that hasn't happened.

And that's the crux of it all. What people think about you changes nothing about you. Taking offense only gives it power.

If I took offense to my gym friend, and berated her, then there's some part of me that feels insecure about my own sexuality. Or that somehow my image doesn't fulfill what I think a manly man should look like. And that's ridiculous because trying to prove to someone else that I'm not gay or that I'm manly doesn't make me any more or less of those things.

What's important is what we think of ourselves.

Let's slow down here. There are moments where I think I'm a loser for whatever reason. Maybe I'm comparing myself to someone, and I feel like crap because I'm not as successful as that person. In that moment that I feel like a loser, I'm not really a loser. It's just a feeling caused by that thought. That's it.

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However, if I continue down that road of thinking I'm a loser, then what may happen is that my actions may change. Maybe I’ll stop going to the gym. Or that I’ll get fired from my job because I don't try as hard. And my perception of reality may change. For example, I'll become angry at people because I think they're treating me like a loser. I may treat others badly as a result. All of this can lead me down the road of being and acting like a loser, which can make me angrier…it's a loop.

The moment I let go of the thought that I'm a loser, my mind will clear itself up, and my emotional state will return to peace.

Letting go is always the difficult part. I used to think that letting go meant stuffing my emotions down. That doesn't work. Imagine a heavy thought that you're carrying around in the physical form of a twenty pound weight. Now, try stuffing that weight down your pants. You might not see that weight, but it’s still weighing you down. Trust me. It ain't easy walking around with twenty pounds in your pants. I'm Asian. I know.

Letting go of a thought is like letting go of that twenty pound weight in that it doesn't weigh you down anymore. You're literally free of it. That doesn't mean you won't pick up it up again. So be aware.

You'll know when you've released yourself of that heavy thought because you don't feel it's affects on you anymore. If you merely stuffed that thought down, then you'll feel it somewhere in the back of your mind.

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We're all masters at letting go of thought because we do this every day. There have been studies that suggest that we have 60,000 thoughts a day. Holding onto each one would crush us, causing a mental breakdown. Most people don't have mental breakdowns because as each thought comes, it goes.

What tends to happen is that we focus on the thoughts that "matter" to us. If I was insecure about my sexuality, and my gym friend comes and suggests that I'm gay, then my mind will go into a whirlpool of thoughts about what she said. But I know what I like, so I have no need to confirm or deny my heterosexuality. I just want to get back to my workout.

Back to my friend who assured me that I care about what people think about me.

Generally, I don't. There are times when I do. If I'm on a date with a lady that I really like, then my ego likes to step in front of me and analyze everything that she does and says. That means I'm not listening to and engaging with my date, which likely is putting her off.

My friend is probably projecting her need for peoples' approval onto me. I know her well enough that she does put a lot of value into other people's opinion of her, so it's difficult for her to imagine how I do not.

Everybody projects at some level. If I'm watching a video of someone hiking the trail to Angels Landing, I freak out. I see a picture of a person sitting on the edge of a cliff, I freak out. Me freaking out is irrational because the threat of falling isn't present to me. I'm just watching a video or looking at a picture. But I'm projecting my deep fear of heights.

Hopefully, it's obvious at this point that reality is projected by our minds. That one person can be in misery, while the next person is experiencing orgasmic joy. And that thought is the main ingredient of our experience. This gives us a lot of power. That peace and happiness are not determined by others or by our circumstances. How peaceful we are in our minds determines that.

Appearances

One of my biggest fans, code named Hates Myguts, rejected my FaceBook request. Here's a simple truth: no one is obligated to like you or me or anyone. A friend of mine had confirmed her sunny disposition toward me, if sunny disposition meant disgust.

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Some months had passed when Hates sent me an invite to her birthday dinner. At this point, solving the mysteries of the universe would be easier than trying to figure out why Ms. Myguts invited me to celebrate the result of her parents' sexual conduct. "Here's my birthday gift for you," I responded to her invite. "I won't be coming. Happy birthday."

She messaged me and told me that someone attending the dinner might be interested in me. Let's review the logic here: Hates Myguts has a sunny disposition toward me. Despite that, she had wanted to set me up with her friend. And, oh yeah, birds of a feather flock together. In other words, bitches run in packs, yo.

If Hates don't like me, then her friend ain't gonna be much different. I'm assuming, of course. When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me. In truth I didn't want to spend time with someone who hadn't liked me. I'd rather be manscaping.

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My friend had attended and told me that Hates brought me up in conversation during dinner. Apparently Ms. Myguts was upset that I didn't grace her with my presence. Issues much? I have to say that made me smile. My friend asked the girl who Hates was trying to set me up with if she wanted to meet me, and said, "He's rich."

I'm not. She was referring to me owning property.

"He doesn't act rich," Hates said.

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When I heard this, I couldn't stop laughing. I eventually did cuz it's kinda hard peeing while laughing. It shakes all over the place. And that's not very sanitary. Imagine the amount of paper towels I'd waste if I truly couldn't stop laughing.

It's obvious Hates doesn't know a lot of rich people. Rich people are like...people. They come in all different sizes. They're big and small, thick and thin, smart and stupid. Some want to show off their wealth. Others are unassuming.

The reason I had laughed was because I was a bit relieved. When my friend told me that Hates didn't want to be my friend, for a moment I felt like a loser. That was all in my mind. This is important: Hates didn't cause this feeling within me. Me thinking of being a loser caused it. Eventually this thought left my mind, and I felt fine again. Now, I don't discourage my friend from hanging out with Hates Myguts. When we have dinner together, I don't hate on Hates because I don't want to delve into hateful thoughts. I make that mistake sometimes, but I eventually find my way out of that black hole.

Thoughts can be powerful when we hold onto them. Sometimes I linger around the loser thought. So when Hates had brought me up at her birthday dinner and stated I don't act rich, I knew her judgement of me had nothing to do with me. And that's true of all people who judge. The issue(s) lies within them.

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Whatever sour thoughts that invade Hates' mind, sours her view of the world. So to make her world right, she has to surround herself with people she thinks will represent who she is. But this doesn't work.

It's sorta like buying a fast sports car, having cool clothes, and carrying around an iPhone X to impress people. He wants people to see these things, that he's well to do or cool, but he's still him whether he has this stuff or not.

So in Hates' mind, if she has the right kind of people around her, then she must also be all right. If she truly wants to be all right, then she needs to release the thoughts that she's not. Or at least not think about them so much. As I've said, sometimes I linger around the loser thought. Sometimes longer than I’d like. But once I realize what I'm doing, then I'm able to let go and move on. There are things you can do to help facilitate moving on. Take a walk. Pet your pet. Even that pet. Get together with friends. Laugh. If you don't hold onto those thoughts by actively thinking about them, then they'll go away naturally. 

Be Like Water

In my last post, I stated that positive thinking could hinder your success. And success is different for different people. Some see being a great parent as successful, even if their job may not look like it. Or that success is more than being on a professional sports team, but winning the championship.

It doesn't matter how you define success, but the path to it will always require some level of ingenuity or creativeness that is innate within us all. And this is where positive thinking can hinder any endeavor.

How you may ask?

There's a state of mind called no-mind, mushin in Japanese. It's a state of flow where you're acting upon the present moment, and anything that stops that flow will take you out of that moment.

So imagine a Samurai immersed in a sword battle. If she kept thinking, "I can kill him, I can kill him...," then she would not be present to a sword swiping across her neck. But if she were to free herself of thinking and allowed her thoughts to flow, then she would have seen the sword set for a death strike because her mind isn't blinded by thinking.

In other words, she'd be in the zone.

But being in flow can happen anywhere. Take a screaming child. Wait. Don't take children. That's a crime. But let's imagine a father at the grocery store, and he pushes the cart down the magazine isle, and the swimsuit issue catches his eye. His son is sitting in the seat and starts fussing about wanting a new toy. Let's face it. He has enough toys, so he ain't gonna get another one.

The father is admiring the artistry and framing of the scenery to the swimsuit models and begins to read the articles. I know, this is made up, but come along anyway.

His son yells and screams.

The father is embarrassed and doesn't want to be seen as a bad father and tries to quiet his son by showing him a picture of a woman laying on the sand looking wantonly, despite the cold ocean water.

His boy slaps the magazine out of the father's hand and shrieks louder than a fire truck siren. People in the next county are calling child services.

The father is blinded by what other people think of him, tells himself he's a good father, and holds back the greedy need to slap his son. Obviously, he's not in flow. His mind is cluttered. He commands his son to be quiet, which we all know how well that works with children. He tells his son that this is bad behavior. Logic and children often do not mix. He's reacting to his own thinking, which only stokes the fire in his mind—more panic—and his son's screeching can be heard in the next state at this point. 

However, if he were to take a moment, and let those cluttering thoughts flow on by like water in a river, then he'll get a new thought. And a small voice suggests to just stand there and stare at his son.

Single mothers are now looking at the father, other children give dirty looks, a manager makes her way down the isle toward him. But all the father does is calmly stare at the fruit of his loins. And like a balloon running out of air, the child's wail weans. The father strolls down the isle and reminds himself that he needs to buy that swimsuit issue. The manager is upset because the magazine wasn't picked up and put back on the rack.

If the father had cluttered his mind with positive thinking, or any kind of thinking, he may have never received the wisdom to just stare and wait for his son to be done. It's sort of like pumping the river with more water, while the thought up the river doesn't get a chance to come down stream, or if it does, he misses it because he's too busy pumping the river with more positive water.

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall...

I hate small talk. It's basically two people filling up the quiet, and sometimes I feel when I'm asked small talk questions, the other person doesn't really wanna know who I am. Which is fine, just go away. So I tend to ask revealing and hard questions like 'Wassup?' and 'How you doin?''.

Fig. 1: Does it look like I appreciate sarcasm?

Fig. 1: Does it look like I appreciate sarcasm?

I was talking to a friend and threw out a question. "You seein' anyone?"

She smiled and ducked her head into her shoulders, then nodded.

"How long have you two been together?"

She shrugged and said, "I'm not sure we're 'together'."

"So…why don't you ask?"

She looked away and then shrugged. "I don't want to scare him away."

"And what if you do? If he runs away because you asked whether you're his girlfriend or not, then he's not the guy for you."

She hemmed and hawed and shuffled her feet around and adjusted her breasts (see Fig. 1), then promised herself to ask him.

It's been over six months, and she has yet to confirm their relationship, which is coming up to a year now. But her fear of confronting him about this stems from a deep level of insecurity. A part of it comes from whether she thinks she's worthy of a man, her attractiveness to men, and thinking that this is her last chance, given her age.

In other words, all this fear/insecurity was created in her mind, from her thinking. And it's sad because I've seen men approach her, but she doesn't open up because she's in this limbo with this guy that nobody in our circle of friends have ever met. We don't even know his name. We've never even seen a picture!

Now, if she didn't care about their label/status and just enjoys doing the horizontal mamba, then I wouldn't bug her about it. But she told me that it bothers her a lot, and many times she's tried to gather the courage to ask him about their…uh…you know…um…thang…not thang as in junk…but their thingybob. But she couldn't bring herself to do it.

I understand that fear. It's fake. But I get it.

I get into my head too much as well. It happens to all of us. And trying to change your thinking, like looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself you're worth this much, doesn't always help.

A better way of approaching life is to realize that happiness doesn't come from a person, from a relationship, from buying a new car, from having the most lavish home in the world. We as humans are just that. We are content. We are at peace. We are healthy.

If we look at the human body, we are born into a thing that is already healthy, that is self-healing. Sure, there are cases where someone is born blind, without a body part, allergic to certain things. Even then, our bodies naturally grow, eats when it needs sustenance, shits when it needs to get rid of crap, heals when it gets injured, all without our intervention.

So it is with our mental health. If your mind is curious about something, then it'll find out. Like my friend. She wants to know if she's in a relationship. She wants a family, so time is of the essence. But her fear/insecurity gets in the way.

What she doesn't need to do is cover it up with daily affirmations.

If I get a cut, I don't need to look myself in the mirror and say, "Good Lawd. Let mah bawdy heal. Please Lawd Geezus Kryst." Then smack my forehead with my own palm and yell, "I am healed!"

You'd think I was crazy if you saw me do that.

But this is what a lot of people do. They look at themselves in the mirror and affirm that they are confident, worthy, and good enough, blah, blah blah...

The only thing you need to do is get out of your own way. How the hell do I do that, you may ask? Try not holding onto thoughts so much. Everyone gets insecure. That's just part of being human. What gets us in trouble is when we believe in those thoughts, then we try to counter that thought with another thought, which only invites more thoughts, then we try to counter those thoughts with even more thoughts, and suddenly we're in a whirlpool of a million thoughts.

Instead, think of a thought as a bubble in a stream. As it merrily comes, you watch it pass you and see it go. Another bubble will come, and you do the same. It's nothing. It's temporary. It doesn't belong to you, nor does it own you. It's just a bubble. Maybe even a dream.

And much like my friend's fear that this guy is her last chance is fake. It's a fear of a situation that doesn't exist. At least, not yet, if it ever will. If she were to drop this guy, who's to say another better man won't come along? 

The Secret and The Action Thought

I've read a lot of books regarding success and personal growth.  There are three main things they focus on.  The way you think, the way you feel, and the way you act. One of the biggest publishing successes for personal growth was The Secret.  I have a copy of it.  It's main focus is thought.  Think it, dream it, and voila, it appears.

One  main thing it skims over is action.  The book refers to Jack Canfield.  It's actually my favorite part of the book.  One of the things he did was write a check out for $100,000 dollars and every morning he looked at it.  Then he got an idea, an inspiration to write a book.  He sold the book for .25 cents each.  He followed the golden nuggets of inspiration, advertised in the National Inquirer, and sold close to 400,000 copies.  Not only did he basically reach his envisioned goal, he celebrated.  Then he got another idea to write something called Chicken Soup for the Soul.  It was a bit successful.  If you call a major hit a bit.

What's the moral of the story?  Know where you are.  Know where you want to be.  Act on it.  Do something about it.  Just do it.  Sound familiar?  A small shoe company uses that slogan.

Years ago, my best friend and I were debating about what was more important.  Positive thought or Action thought.  What do you think?

You can wish to win the lottery, but until you buy a ticket, it's unlikely you're going to win.

Personally, positive thought is overrated.  Progressive thought, on the other hand, is awesome.  You want something?  Go for it.  Take the first step toward it.  Too many people want the success without putting the work behind it.  Think what you need to do to get what it is you want.

My friend coined the term progressive thought.  Thought that moves you toward your goal.  You want to be a great sprinter?  Sprint.  Want to be a great snowboarder?  Snowboard.  Want to write the great American novel?  Write.

And a small word on positive thinking.  It's not about thinking positively, but ignoring the crap that doesn't help you.  If a friend came up to you and said, "I wanna be an actor."  Most people would be like, "Good luck, dude.  It's like totally hard, man, and it's so not practical."  DON'T LISTEN TO THAT CRAP!  Let it roll off your back, have a progressive thought like, "I'm going to take acting classes."  You are now one step closer toward your dream.  Isn't that what Tom Hanks did?  Read his story.  It's amazing.

Just do it.