Behavior

143. 26 YEARS SOBER

When I stopped drinking, I found I was dying of thirst. Yes, I had a temporary longing for what I’d left behind, but this wasn’t the REAL issue; my mind was suddenly parched. Just as stated in my entry, 140. A BRAND NEW LIBRARY, I went full bore into the ocean of new information, and while I spent my early days on the beaches of exotic mental locations, these days I find my wanderings to be less adventurous.

The winter of my life is nearing, I’ll be 57 this year, but this doesn’t mean I’m approaching the end, it simply means my outlook has shifted to different priorities. I no longer see the world as something to be conquered, I do not see life as a competition, and I certainly have no need to prove anything to anyone other than myself. That being said, I do still have high aspirations, and when I die, I plan to leave behind a full calendar of appointments and pursuits. What does bother me a little is my speed has slowed somewhat. I watch TV when I don’t need to, I waste time when I could be making the next move on my chessboard, and worst of all, I talk about what I want to do more than just doing it.

Time to shift gears.

For some reason I’ve begun to equate comfort with peace, and while I’ll always seek peace, it’s not necessarily incompatible with occasional doses of chaos. A comfortable life is, in a word, boring, and I’ve become way too comfortable, predictable, and repetitive. I’m NOT looking for discomfort, it’s a life of surprise, stimulation, and challenge which has been missing for far too long. Anticipation and excitement, in the proper doses, are wonderful ways to spice up life. There’s nothing wrong with status quo if it’s what someone wants, but it’s not for me.

Today marks the completion of my 26th year of recovery and to celebrate I’m making a resolution to be in a much different, much better, and more rewarding place a year from now.

We’ll see in a year if my resolve has been strong enough. Don’t bet against me.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

142. IF AND WHEN

I’m a believer in the philosophy of the power behind “self-fulfilling prophecies”. In short, if you don’t already know, a self-fulfilling prophecy is nothing more than thinking or voicing what you feel you can or cannot, accomplish. The brain is funny. We have the gift, to direct (or at least curb) a good portion of its behavior. It can be magnified or subdued, depending on the motive. The question is, what fuels motive? Thoughts, both conscious and subconscious, provide the energy to allow it to perform both covert and intended actions. We drive, walk, listen, work, play, and so on with little focus on what’s taking place in our head. On the other hand, programs, or subconscious thought, also do a great deal of work. Functions like breathing, pumping blood, digesting food, and warding off sickness are truly the brain’s biggest duties, but even these things, if focused on, can be altered by awareness. There are people who can control their heart rate through meditation AND there are a great many who can mess up natural rhythms just by believing things will go haywire. Don’t believe me? I’ll bet you can make an itch worse if you think about it rather than simply scratch, especially if it’s private and you’re in a public place.

Belief systems are among the most powerful thoughts. This is because ego is attached and usually won’t allow any sort of alteration. Personal beliefs, the ones we keep silent and to ourselves have gigantic leverage, but STATED beliefs, ones that are vocalized and have an audience carry the most punch. Why? It’s simple, the brain does not want to be a liar. It wants to be right all the time, and it will do anything to keep that status. I hear damaging statements all the time, and it breaks my heart because I know just how influential they are. Let’s see if some of these examples sound familiar.

  • I’m so unlucky
  • I’ll never find a man or woman
  • I’ll never sober up
  • I can’t lose weight
  • I’ll never have enough money
  • I’ll never be able to pay off my bills
  • No one loves me
  • No one respects me
  • I hate getting up in the morning
  • I’m always late
  • I never seem to finish anything
  • I never have any energy

Now, I just wrote those out at the speed of sound, not just because I hear them all the time, (I do) but because I used to say the same garbage myself with regular consistency. When any of these pointless statements came true, my reward was saying “see, I was right, I told you so.” If my stated belief is “I can’t lose weight” then I WILL DO what it takes to maintain that position, even if I’m totally unaware of how I’m repositioning my own chessboard. In the end, through subconsciously setting myself up for selling myself as a victim, I can eventually convince myself I won the game.

Reverse the list above and one will come up with a much more effective and positive set of declarations. Some of the wording is changed to a more focused vision of what is sought.

  • I’m desirable
  • I don’t need drugs of any kind
  • I’m thin
  • I’m wealthy
  • I pay my debts
  • I’m loved
  • I’m appreciated 
  • I’m a morning person
  • I’m punctual
  • I’m reliable
  • I’m enthusiastic

Notice my wording is not in future tense as in “I’ll get…” or “I’ll become…”. When we use this type of language, we automatically push expectation to the future, and as a result, it will never happen. 

The biggest biggest change in the way I now think and especially talk, was to eliminate the word “if”. I have long since replaced it with “when”. Why would anyone want to say, “If the time is right, I’ll ask for a raise” or “If I ever find the right woman, I’ll settle down”. Nonsense. “Ifs” never happen, that’s the way they’re wired. “Whens”, on the other hand, ALWAYS happen.

So, the word best describing this whole process is “affirmation”. Affirmations are NOT new-age hocus-pocus, they are they single most powerful tool of manifestation we have at our disposal. Let’s face it, we all know people who swing the wrecking ball at their own crane and then wonder why everything stops working. It’s REALLY easy to see negative affirmations in action with other people; just know it works the same way for you as well.

One last observation. I’m a fan of Tony Robbins, and he has life dialed in pretty dang good. One of his exercises is to have the listener write down what they want no matter how silly or outrageous it seems at the moment. As instructed, I did, and at the top of my list I wrote “Win Powerball”.

Guess what happened?

I DID win on the very next drawing, but it was only 100.00. Yup, I won, and it taught me to be WAY more specific with my affirmations. On my next list I’m going to write “Win the top prize in Powerball.”

That ought to do it.

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With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

141. AN EMPATHIC PATH

 

If I were a box of crayons, in nineteen ninety-five mine would have had two choices, black and white; the black one almost used up, broken, blunt, with teeth marks and missing the paper, while the white one still lingered, brand new, a constant reminder of what had been lost. My talent for expression (as a pseudo-adult) was limited to say the least. By the time I had reached the age of twenty-three, I’d completely embraced apathy. What was once a bright assortment of choices, at least from an emotional standpoint, seemed lost beyond reclamation. I was incorrectly convinced my variety of sixty-four shades I’d so generously made use of as a child existed only in my past. I had no idea I still owned them; they’d just been left in a dusty room, long forgotten. Scribbled on the door of that room, in the colorful handwriting of a child, was the word “Love”.  

When I finally took steps to rebuild my life from scratch and leave my self-destructive lifestyle behind, one of the biggest challenges facing me was a need to connect with and start expressing abandoned and rusty emotions. As my body and spirit slowly reconstructed, I picked them up one by one, practicing with each for a time, and methodically refilled my supply. Eventually my pictures returned to vibrant variety. Not only that, they were better than ever. I began taking joy in presenting myself as a work of art. There was, however, one variety I neglected to include, not because I ignored it, but for the simple matter I’d never owned it in the first place.

Empathy was a foreign concept. It took me a long time to embrace and decipher the energy of this valuable emotion. I was certainly good at sympathizing, but this action smacked of comparison. I could somewhat understand the pain and heartbreak another felt as long as I found similar instances in my own life. Since my interpretation of sympathy was to look for negative parallels in my own life, the best I could do was increase an undesirable outlook. Instead of understanding the problem (which is the first step to creating a solution) I would unintentionally add to the bonfire of the original crisis by doing nothing more than equating to it. I do not believe sympathy to be unkind, it definitely comes from a desire to extend love, but empathy is a much better and productive expression. First and foremost, empathy, which is the willingness to step into another’s shoes, another’s life, and attempt to feel what they do, is free from judgment. Remember, the total absence of judgment is the very definition of unconditional love. As soon as my opinion (ego) enters the process, I’ve put conditions on it, and I’ve lost my intent. While I believe this is a skill that can be practiced and refined, I feel there is a danger of stepping away from one’s own sense of self if done too much. Awareness is the key. If an aptitude for empathic alignment becomes subconscious, then my understanding is it could have catastrophic consequences.

While I think this choice of living is rare and rewarding, I believe there is an even more elusive emotion; one almost no one has mastered. My theory (and YES, it’s just a theory) is there are people out there who have honed their ability to align with the emotional states of others so much that they automatically start to project their OWN feelings, their own state of consciousness as it were. Their presence alone raises the “vibration” of whoever happens to be in the vicinity. I’m not suggesting the process changes people’s minds or controls their thoughts, but I do believe they carry an elixir of inspiration within their aura, something akin to removing all the surface ripples from a pond. Even if you’re agnostic it’s hard to not admit Christ was certainly one of these blessed souls. Others like Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, or Mother Theresa most likely fall into the same category. I call these individuals “reverse empaths”. If you’ll note, the four I’ve mentioned were as free from ego as one can possibly become, so obviously this is a massive part of the technique.

Have I been in the same room with such people? Maybe. I do know there have been times where my state of agitation was suddenly and inexplicably lowered to a level of peace and bliss. If I’m right, it’s no wonder individuals with such magnetic energies are sought out. The catch is they are also completely uninterested in fame or fortune, which makes finding them difficult… but that’s not going to stop me from trying.

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With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood    

138. 10 LIES WE BELIEVE, 10 TRUTHS WE IGNORE

 

1. Live each day as if it’s your last.
     A. Live each day as if it’s your FIRST.

2. Do what makes you happy.
     B. Do what’s right, even if it hurts.

3. It’s my life, I can do what I want.
     C. Our choices ALWAYS affect others more than they affect us.

4. Forgiveness is about saying what they did is okay now.
     D. Forgiveness is about letting go of self-inflicted pain.

5. Love always feels good, fear always feels bad.
     E. Love can cause deep sorrow; fear can fuel determination.

6. You are separate from God.
     F. You are a direct projection of your source.

7. Being right is our main objective.
     G. Being kind is our highest priority.

8. Those who die with the most toys, wins.
     H. Those who die with no regrets are the most envied.

9. We must defend our rights and freedoms.
     I. Defending the rights and freedoms of others is our primary duty.

10. The faster you go, the more you get done.
     J. The slower you go, the more you experience.

1. = Drop all judgements
2. = Put others first
3. = Let go of ego
4. = Be at peace
5. = Don’t let feelings guide actions
6. = Connection to perfection is constant
7. = Empathy is the highest quality
8. = Do the most what you regret the least
9. = Defend and protect your neighbor
10. = Quantity does not equal quality

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Comments are welcome, I will answer in kind. 

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

137. MANAGING FEAR

I used to be terrified of heights; sweaty palms, vertigo, the works, and that’s just when I stood up. Seriously though, I really was afraid of heights. In fact, as a young boy, I had a whole list of anxieties. Spiders (note the still above from “The Incredible Shrinking Man”) and bees, getting into fights, riding the school bus, where to sit during lunch, what would be said about me during parent/teacher conferences, deep water, seeing my report card, and most of all, my mother. Fear was always there. It dominated me for the most part but thank God it occasionally retreated to the background. I had frequent (albeit brief) periods of joy, peace, and amusement, especially when I was alone, but every type of fear, from despair to terror, was the main emotional state I expressed and felt for most of my youth. As I grew older I found I’d gained leverage over how events progressed in my own life, and I slowly began to feel as if I were moving past my unwanted emotional alignments. In reality they morphed into a more covert way of manifesting themselves, which is where my addictive traits eventually began to overwhelm me.

I must have had some sort of sense of avoidance on a subconscious level because I refused engage in many activities as a teenager that appeared to be both extremely fun and entertaining, but leaned towards a possible self-destructive path. Gateway drugs were obvious temptations, but things like cigarettes and casual sex were also part of the equation. By the time I was sixteen I’d already known people who had passed a point of no return. They had eventually stepped over a line where their behavior was causing damage that could not be reversed. I wasn’t necessarily terrified of what I saw, but there was enough fear to keep me in a state of caution when it came to how I was going to proceed in my own life.

There were two traps I eventually allowed myself to be lured into. I had no real cautions about either alcohol or, surprisingly, sugar. I’d never been around (or more likely hadn’t noticed) either one of these indulgences all that much. I’d been in the company of those who were drunk and others who overate, BUT most people I knew who drank weren’t drunks, and most who ate candy weren’t fat. This casual observation effectively cancelled any apprehensions I might have had if I’d witnessed the more destructive nature that abusing both of these could lead to. The largest flaw in my personality has always been all-in on anything hedonistic. I KNEW this ahead of time, which is why I avoided so many other paths. If I were to sample the example, apprehension would be lost. Practicing moderation has been one of my biggest struggles. There was a darkness inside me waiting for fertilization, I could feel it. Stepping over the line would be catastrophic to not only myself, but probably a great many others as well. I genuinely was split, good over here, bad over here; kindness on one side, malice on the other. When I recognized this I panicked and started doing anything I could to alter my state of mind. I chose what I thought was an easy path, to do so from the outside in instead of from the inside out and quite effectively shot myself in the foot.

I was horrible at managing my feelings and even worse at interpreting them. My logic was to avoid what either felt bad or might have bad consequences and embrace what either felt good or could be rewarding. The problem with such thinking was I avoided the correct course of action if there were the possibility of pain or price involved and embraced flawed conduct if pleasure or gratification was perceived. Fear, in my mind, was something to be avoided at all costs.

I’ve never told myself a bigger lie.

Believe it or not fear is my ally. It is NOT the enemy. Why? Because when I allow myself to feel it, to acknowledge its existence, I become aware of what must be overcome. I cannot improve as a person without recognizing what’s holding me back. There are, of course, situations which must be heeded with total apprehension, but it takes practice to separate authentic threats from those that are illusionary. The easiest way for me to recognize whether or not irrational behavior is in play is to determine the nature of support behind my reaction. Fear that owes its existence to blame is false, fear that arises as a result of a need to be responsible is authentic.

If, for example I’m blaming my lack of experience on pursuing a task, this is an unfounded fear, one based on an egotistical ideology, and it keeps me from expanding my résumé. On the other hand, if someone is holding a gun on me demanding my wallet, being frightened is perfectly acceptable. Most fear, in my experience, has extraordinarily little danger attached to outcome, in fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. Recognizing and walking through anything I’ve equated with apprehension has always been the best course of action, one that unveils potential and reaps success.

I suppose my best advice is to stop being afraid of feeling scared. Fear is a tool, a lever we can use to maneuver ourselves to a life of high achievement. There’s no doubt we are motivated when there’s something we want to gain or create, but if there’s something in the way we want to overcome as well, it becomes fun.

Trust me.

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Comments are welcome, I will answer in kind.

With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

136. THE GREAT EXPERIMENT

One of my basement beliefs, one a good many may disagree with, is that our behaviors are more important than our objectives. I think how we decide to act is far more productive, and in the long run, satisfying to our spirit, than creating and moving toward a vision. Both are important, even necessary, but in my experience, character is shaped much more by how we choose to get somewhere. The way in which we travel and the things we do along the route is where we find and reveal our soul. Our resolve to do it repeatedly is prompted by reaching the summit of one’s vision, and in doing so, know we can take up a similar quest again. I suppose it could be equated thus, “If life is a road trip, then how important is the course and carriage as opposed to the destination?” Many philosophers have pointed out the secret to living is about the journey, and I agree. Goals are inherently necessary or movement through life becomes stagnant, pointless; but when we look back, reminisce as it were, do not our thoughts almost linger more about how we got there than it was about finally accomplishing our mission? I think the secret to living is to make our life’s vision all about the journey by creating interesting and creative intentions that force us along new and challenging paths. The circle (or perhaps spiral) becomes symbiotic between method and objective.

Here lies the real question, “What would happen to our lives if we concentrated on our conduct rather than focusing on an outcome?” I have other posts on this blog addressing the importance of asking quality questions, and in my opinion, this is one of the best. If outcome is all that matters, then it’s almost inevitable we will forgo our ethics to reach a conclusion. I’m not willing to compromise my principles, so I choose to, in every situation, practice my beliefs. For example, I will not abandon kindness in favor of cruelty just to win the race. I once heard a man say, “If life is a journey, then the faster you go, the quicker you reach the end.” If this is true, then the higher the speed, the lower the quality of our experiences.

I threw away a good portion of my life, fifteen years at least. I have no compunctions about it, but I do intend to do what I can to regain ground, and I must say, so far, so good. I made a decision years ago to treat the rest of my existence as an experiment. When I first sobered up, appreciation and gratitude for everything rose massively. Situations many would call boring or ordinary had me looking at the miracle of the moment most ignore. It forced me to slow down, and in turn it gave me an insight to a secret, one I talk at length about in another blog post, 118. Eyes of Wonder. The secret is this, the more we look forward, anticipate as it were, the more we force our perspective of time to slow down. Think of your own childhood. Did it not feel as if your birthdays were three years apart? That Christmas was never, ever going to arrive? When we were children, we spent all our thought processes, all our energy looking forward. It didn’t matter if we anticipated a pleasant conclusion or not. As adults we tend to look back, both in the framework of reminiscence and regret. It stands to reason, the more we concentrate on the past, the more we neglect what’s in front of us, and in doing so we speed up the arrival of our future. If I’m correct about this, then the reverse is true. The more we look forward, with either dread or eagerness, the more we force our awareness of time to decelerate. This realization was the first part of my intended “experiment.”

The second part was to concentrate on my morals. If I were to move forward with a plan, I needed parameters. The willingness to set and stick to behavioral boundaries is what separates us from the common animal. We have the ability to look in the mirror and say “I’m going to be a better person than I was yesterday, kinder, more tolerant, less indulgent, better informed, more productive, less selfish, more empathetic and less judgmental, and so on.” This list reflects my personal intentions, but you get the idea. Grizzly bears do not get up in the morning and say to themselves, “Today I’m going to be a better bear.” Doesn’t happen. We own the ability to circumvent our instincts, and that’s a divine gift, one many throw in the garbage.

Once I had both parts, I had the vehicle to move forward with my life’s “experiment.” I will choose to constantly look forward to tomorrow (without ignoring the moment, this is important) and do so while attempting to become a better person than I was yesterday. If you’ll notice, my plan is absent of a specific destination, but without manufacturing them, I’d have a difficult time collecting research, so I do set goals.

I’m not immune to distractions and I often find myself wandering off the road, this year (2020) especially. I get flat tires, run out of gas (physical neglect), I pull over to indulge in crappy roadside gift shops (materialism), and get bored (lose faith) BUT… I always eventually keep going. Here’s to better roads worthy of stopping to take pictures, enjoying the ride,  and meeting new people along the way.

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Comments are welcome, I will answer in kind.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

130. IN SEARCH OF THE ENEMY

If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s this; frustration, fear, anger, resentment, and hate will never claim to have sprung from their true origins, they’ll always look to blame their existence on outside circumstance. As long as we own the power of reaction, we have leverage over how we feel. This is one of life’s most important truths.

Right now the world is coming at us in ways we’ve never dared to imagine. We stand at the edge of a worldwide hurricane. We feel the breeze turning into an inevitable tempest as the skies on the horizon go from grey to black. We are indeed being attacked, and our defenses are minimal at best. We do however, have defenses, and those who make the best use of them will eventually walk free of the storm. 

Who then is the real enemy? Who or what do we ultimately need to defend ourselves against? Is it the government for what we convince ourselves is lack of proper action? Is it the media for either over-hyping or under-prioritizing the dangers we face? Is it our neighbors who are in hysterics, buying out mass quantities of products hoping to isolate comfortably? Is it the disease itself? I say no, and here’s why.

None of the above examples are anything we have an active power over. We do on the other hand have the power of reaction. Awareness and manipulation of this strategy is the foundation of monuments. I’ve stated many, many times both on this blog and in person that we cannot change life from the outside in, we can only do it from the inside out, and here is where our real enemy lies; it’s ourselves. When we choose to blame, we relinquish self-control. When we choose to blame we fully acknowledge the problem and discard any thought of seeking solutions. 

I do not deny there will be victims, and I pray I will come to know none, but I do know there will be a lot less in the end if we choose to abandon frustration, fear, anger, resentment, and hate. We MUST bring water to the fire. To stoke it further is to align with its intent. Obviously then we must move forward with the opposites of these negative emotions. Confidence, Love, joy, and kindness are therefore the “weapons” we must wield. These are NOT weak defences, for does it not take MORE strength than usual to project this strategy? If you think doing so is going to be tough, then so be it, be tough. I for one believe composure during the most violent of situations is the highest state of mind one can achieve. You can either lead others with this approach, or follow the rest to almost certain self-destruction. 

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Comments are welcome, I will answer in kind. 

With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

128. LET’S BE WEIRD

I knew something was different about me very early on. The first time I realized this around the age of six. There I was, sitting in bed, joyously scribbling away in my Tom and Jerry coloring book and singing loudly to myself when it crossed my mind I was quite happy with no one else around. I truly remember this moment. I liked being in the company of others just fine, but I didn’t miss them when they weren’t there. I’m almost fifty-six now with no brothers or sisters, but back then there was no way of knowing if siblings were going to be in my life or not, so expectations of a bigger family remained open. Either way it didn’t matter, I craved neither solitude nor companionship, whatever the moment offered was quite comfortable. I also knew this attitude was different than most.

My teachers thought I was a bundle of nerves with a big mouth. I was; still am as an adult, but at least now I have increased self-awareness with my tendencies as well as an ability to redirect my energies, though sometimes it’s a little past my initial expressiveness. I was also rude, but never consciously so. My exasperated mother could not get me to say “excuse me” correctly when I walked in front of, or accidentally got in the way of others. Instead, I had it backwards for years and gleefully said “excuse you” instead, which really did come across as me being bratty. I never meant to be impolite, but I’m sure it seemed that way to those who were in my presence. Most of this stemmed from being selfish and overbearing, a side-effect of being an only child. There’s no doubt this type of behavior in today’s environment would insist on some sort of diagnosis that would require lots of drugs and possibly even therapy. Thank God I was born when I was.  If I were to unknowingly meet my younger self these days I’m sure I would roll my eyes and shake my head.

My personal habits in my youth were almost always directed towards fantasy or science fiction. Reality was fun, no doubt, but the possibility of imagination becoming reality held much more intrigue. I was a Star Trek, Wild Wild West, and Lost in Space kid. My library was soon filled with similar themes as I grew older and began to voraciously read. L. Frank Baum’s OZ books, A.A. Milne, The Chronicles of Narnia, and everything written by Edgar Rice Burroughs filled many hours of mental journeys. My artwork reflected my tendencies (and still does) when a brush, pen, or pencil was above a blank page. My room, my toys, were also in line as well. Everything one could think and create with, construction sets, art supplies, and, of course, books were my go-to playthings. Yes, I had cars, GI Joe, and sports stuff, but they were fall-back activities. I did play softball almost every day on the playground, so physical pastimes were abundant, but my mind was always elsewhere.

As I grew older I shifted away from my nature. What once was a powerful connection to my spirit faded a little every day as I became more and more hedonistic. This is where I deliberately began to withdraw from my fantasies. I went from being inspired by inward motives, to choosing to be influenced by outward ones. The walls effectively went up, and my wings of imagination came crashing down. Here is where I effectively became “normal.” All too soon I had a vast library of excuses for abandoning my hopes and dreams, in essence I joined the “tribe” and began goose-steeping to the tedious drone the majority of the population mindlessly embraces.

What IS normal one might ask? Well, in my observation the behaviors most people share define what’s totally acceptable, not only because they (usually) remain unchallenged, but also because they serve an agenda that justifies excuses for avoiding taking action. This is a cancerous lifestyle because most of our oblivious thought processes are great examples of misery loving company; we cyclically feed on each others bad habits. Please don’t think I’m past this, I’m not. All too often I catch myself joining in the mob mentality, my ego steps in, and I start playing the game with practiced ease.

Normal is therefore –

  • Accusing circumstance for how you act and feel.
  • Being late most of the time; or at the very least being highly rushed.
  • Trying to be different or stand apart from the outside in.
  • Worrying about reputation.
  • Complaining.
  • Thinking it’s inevitable certain “things” must happen the older we get, weight gain is, ahem… a big example.
  • Money equals happiness.
  • Wondering why everyone is so much luckier than you.
  • Hating Mondays, traffic, getting out of bed, supervisors, and your ex. Basically HATING too much.
  • A sense of lack.
  • Constantly comparing ourselves to others.
  • Wanting all the rewards in life without actually working for them.
  • Being overly offended, which, by the way, is nothing more than a covert way of  judging others.
  • Holding grudges.
  • Consistently defending oneself.
  • Pointing out flaws in everything: which is a cowardly act of misdirection designed to keep others from treating you the way you treat them.

Are ALL these observations normal? No need to ask me for reassurance, just look around for yourself and notice the type of body language most present themselves with, listen to the tone and delivery of how people typically speak as well as the attitudes that drive the agendas of average people. Do their motives fit many if not all the examples given above? Sadly, yes. Most people have fallen under the influence of thinking life can be fixed from the outside in, therefore what’s wrong is “out there”. We’re convinced we can change how we act and feel by manipulating the world around us rather than simply changing how we react. “Normal” is a comfort zone because the behavior is acceptable. The more we step out of the comfort zone, OR the more we embrace imagination, possibility, and personal power, the more we’re labeled as weird, because in doing so we don’t fit the tribe mentality.

Let’s look at a reversed list and perhaps this will enlighten as to just how rare, or of course abnormal it sounds.

Weird is therefore –

  • Owning how you act and feel.
  • Never being late, always relaxed.
  • Doing what it takes to be different from the inside out.
  • Not caring about what others think.
  • Bring grateful.
  • Knowing that you can defy the idea of how people age, and prove it through examples.
  • Happiness equals money. (LOVE this one)
  • Feeling blessed no matter how bad things get.
  • Loving Mondays, getting up the moment the alarm goes off to enjoy the day, empathizing with your boss, and wishing the best for your ex. Basically LOVING  everything.
  • A sense of abundance.
  • Comparing who and what you are, with where you were.
  • Willing to put forth any effort to achieve what you want.
  • Not letting hardly anything bother you, which will cultivate empathy.
  • Easily forgiving.
  • Embracing accountability.
  • Looking for the beauty in everything, which prompts others to do the same in kind.

To me it seems that imagination and compassion complement each other, just as ignorance and animosity are obviously close relatives. If nothing else the first list describes someone who is thoroughly boring and predictable, while the second list supports the type of person who is interesting and spontaneous. It’s ALSO important to point out the first list embraces a posture of inaction and blame, while the second one typifies a lifestyle of action and responsibility.

When I abandoned old beliefs and habits and embraced new ones, I reignited long lost passions I’d convinced myself were forever lost. This was actually a side-effect to my recovery, and I did not expect it. I never thought I’d find fortitude just because I wanted to become different, or of course… WEIRD.

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With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

123. HOW DO YOU FEEL?

These days I wear my heart on my sleeve but it took a few decades to get there. Hiding my emotions from others or altering them to get a desired response is a useful and necessary skill, one I’m quite practiced at, however, I now realize attempting to ignore my passions or repress my reactions from myself is one of the most unhealthy choices I can pursue. For years my reflection stirred nothing but apathy. As a young man I never looked past my own eyes in the mirror, the thought never occurred. Curiosity for what I was past flesh and blood held almost no interest, and so I went about my days in a constant loop of mostly hedonistic pastimes.

I did read, draw, and write on rare occasions, but as time wore on my withdrawal from everything I used to love from a cerebral perspective eventually shrank into distant memory. My existence became extremely superficial. Television and movies ate up a large chunk of mindless time-wasting. Alcohol, of course, sped up the slowing down of my humanity. Projects and pursuits I used to get excited over lay in corners, boxes, and shelves, covered in dust, and fading from memory. All this served to dull my senses and separate me from anything resembling abstract thought. I had nothing to look forward to nor did I have any interest in creating anything anticipatory.

My vocabulary simplified to match my emotional range. Everything was fine or okay. I really had no ups and downs unless you count going from being relieved I didn’t die one day, to wanting to the next. Describing my life was detached from actually feeling it. I walked around for years totally numb, unable to connect inner interpretation to outer situations. My spirit was buried, unable to function. All I was was existence without substance, a shadow of reality.

Getting back to a place of authentic expression took a lot of work. When I first cut the rubber band binding my inner monologue, it burst forth with unexpected energy. This led to bipolar behavior for quite some time. My highs were extremely high, and my lows matched them. Like a ball bouncing from a great height, my passions finally found a somewhat normal rhythm and settled into manageable patterns. There are still deep end experiences these days, but they’re rare and pass quickly. I think the initial danger, when I finally embraced a dynamic lifestyle, was the temptation to align too much with becoming either intensely negative or overly optimistic. Either one of these roads could easily have been one step too far and I would have passed a point of no return. A bitter, hostile attitude towards life had a genuine appeal since it feeds the ego and mine was already well developed, but magnifying this aspect of my personality would have been suicidal. On the other hand, looking at life through “rose colored glasses” also presented alluring temptations. I could go about my business with no concerns about the future whatsoever; however, “blind faith” can be a dangerous journey, one that keeps my eyes looking skyward instead of forward. Luckily, I found a comfortable alternative to either of these two routes. Surprisingly, it’s NOT a middle road, but rather a different one.

I’ve often referred to myself as a “pro-optimist” which isn’t even a real word, but it really does describe how I move through my days. I’m usually highly optimistic as long as I’m actively investing in my ambitions. This path normally allows me to check and balance my emotional state. When I’m involved, blame is absent and responsibility is active. Yes, there’s no doubt most life’s “game” is comprised of random events, but when I have a hand in my own future it (usually) allows me to manipulate key elements, most importantly, my own attitude. As an example, I can be happy everything turned out well, OR I can be pleased I now know what not to do should similar situations arise. Granted, the aforementioned outcome is preferable, but either way my perceptions coupled with direct actions make for a recipe that cannot disappoint. If I look at things in this manner, there is no such thing as failure, and my emotional state has no choice but to align with satisfaction either way. Please note I cannot take this same approach if I am totally separated from an event, which is way I insist on participating in my own life.

Becoming desensitized to life went hand in hand with my subconscious choice to live in a strictly reactive fashion. Once I chose an active life, I had no alternative but to become emotionally adept. I wonder if the same is true for others who were just as lost as me? The title of this entry is not asking how the reader feels, it’s asking “how does one learn to feel?” I know how I did, and it’s one of the skills that keeps me enthusiastic about living.

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With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

116. WHO AM I?

For years, decades actually, this simple statement, finding out who I REALLY was, was never on my radar. I shuffled through the days with no eagerness, no purpose, and no intent on manufacturing a life of abundance. Status quo was fine. As long as tomorrow wasn’t much worse than today, why would I try reaching towards dreams that seemed more like fantasy than possibility? Looking into the mirror I never saw anyone of value; twice nothing is still nothing; this world with me or without me would be the same. Trying and failing was a much more painful prospect (I thought) than never starting, so motivations were completely absent. Nonjudgmental self-evaluation was something I never knew existed, let alone how to practice, though I DID constantly criticize myself, and this path almost led me to an untimely death. Why? Because in my mind all perceived error deserves punishment, or so I thought. I saw all my “mistakes” as permanent character flaws rather than temporary learning opportunities.

One thing’s for sure, I’ve ALWAYS felt like a triangular peg living in a round world; maybe more accurately a star shaped peg. In any case my attitudes and beliefs have never quite seemed to match anyone else’s, especially when I was young. I’m sure this feeling is true for a great many people, but my point is when you (think) you’re a drop of water in a dessert, it’s difficult to find kindred spirits. As a result I began to question if my thought process was totally out of alignment with the rest of mankind’s. Wondering if my sanity was intact was a disturbing notion, one I avoided contemplating. It’s no wonder alcohol and its ability to numb my emotions had an eventual massive appeal.

With these two outlooks on life, basically (choosing to become) an “apathetic alien”, I subconsciously attacked myself from more than one angle. The more I convinced myself I didn’t belong in this world, the more I died a little every day. I’m glad I didn’t.

So, WHO AM I?

I’m now a person who doesn’t care about the question “Who was I?” I remind myself of the past by keeping an occasional eye on my rear-view mirror because it’s good (and in my case, healthy) to know what I don’t want. These days I do indeed look to the horizon (something I NEVER did in my youth) and fantasize about all my plans and dreams, but this still isn’t my primarily focus. I’m hyper-aware I’m neither what was, or what might be. I am what the moment presents, part intent on my part, part what the universe hands me. I refuse to believe I’m the sum total of my (unwanted) history because I try my best to avoid letting previous negative patterns influence the present. Just because I responded a certain way before is no excuse to repeat my behavior under similar circumstances. I’m sorry to say this doesn’t always happen, but I’m much better at this exercise than I used to be. Recognizing a Pavlovian response is eighty-percent of the battle anyway.

Perhaps it would help to define who I am, who I choose to be now by generating a list.

  • I am open-minded.
  • I am Loving.
  • I am receptive to criticism.
  • I am a morning person.
  • I am creative.
  • I am enthusiastic.
  • I am always looking for a good laugh.
  • I am idealistic.
  • I am decisive.
  • I am constantly improving.
  • I am driven.
  • I am a good communicator.
  • I am spontaneous.
  • I am (also) well prepared.
  • I am well connected to my emotions.
  • I am a hard worker.
  • I am in recovery.
  • I am kind.
  • I am artistic.
  • I am concerned more for others than myself.
  • I am organized (at work…)
  • I am blessed.

A rundown of qualities is all fine and well, but coming up with a list of my inadequacies is probably much more useful to REALLY answering “Who am I?” It’s important to note I do NOT currently consider these as defects like I used to. I see them now as nothing more than areas needing the most attention.

 

  • I am a procrastinator.
  • I am a poor listener.
  • I am out of shape.
  • I am impatient.
  • I am an interrupter.
  • I am forgetful.
  • I am disorganized (at home…)
  • I am not using my time wisely.
  • I am putting off my dreams.
  • I am not practicing my art like I know I should.
  • I am not even close to my potential.
  • I am annoyed by reminders of what I should do.
  • I am not as healthy as I could be.
  • I am judgmental.
  • I am wired for addiction.
  • I am stubborn.
  • I am loud.
  • I am undisciplined.
  • I am undereducated.

It’s difficult to self-diagnose, and I’m sure even my closest friends could write a longer list of my needed “upgrades” than I could. The good news is I AM on a path of constant improvement. It’s not as fast as I’d like it to be and I do often find myself taking two steps back for every three forward, but these side trips do not discourage me in the end.

So, “Who am I?”

I’m a work in progress, I’m a person who won’t ever go into “glide mode”. I am opposite of everything I don’t want to be, and honestly, that’s a damn good place.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood