Monday, April 8, 2013

How to Change Yourself and Your Life (the Only Guide You Need)

If you're reading this blog, you're probably an introspective person. You look at yourself, either occasionally or obsessively, and evaluate how you're doing. You've identified things in your life that you do well, and other things that you know are missing. You look around you, and it probably looks like everyone you know has an abundance of that quality you're lacking...self-confidence, business savvy, discipline, presence and charisma, etc. You say to yourself: I wish I could be different. I wish my life could be different.

This is what life is for everyone. This is the carrot that perpetually dangles in front of us, enticing us to chase it. A little more security. A little more respect and status. A little more comfort.

But it's that chasing that leaves us feeling alone and disconnected, because chasing is also a form of escape. When you chase something, you're saying "what I have isn't good enough." You split off from your situation, kind of the way a spirit leaves a dead body in a cartoon.

The irony is that we think once we get that security or that status or that personality flaw fixed, we'll finally be at rest--happy. Is that true? Do we really reach a state of satisfaction or do we just habituate and then start needing more? Five to seven years ago, all I wanted was a blog to express myself and help others, a business where I could be creative, and to be in a psych program. Now that I have those things, am I satisfied? Not at all. I want more...better.

The stuff, the security, the skills, the options, they're like gum. They lose their flavor and we end up needing more. It's an addiction that we build a tolerance to throughout our lives, needing bigger and bigger doses to feel good. The Buddha, on his deathbed, said "All conditioned things are impermanent." Conditioned things are things that depend on other things to exist. My security depends on my bank account, which depends on my job, my clients, the economy, global trends, the weather, politics, etc. They're inherently chaotic and unpredictable, always in a state of decay.

So where does that all leave us? What can you do when everything is so slippery that you can't really hold onto it? What if there was no security? No progress?

You stop.

And you see what you are.

You see where you are.

You greet yourself in your situation. Hello me. The spirit comes back into the body.

And what you start to see is that all this fucking craziness settles. The desperation, the agitation, the worrying. It just stops, because it was all a byproduct of this false notion that getting something will finally satisfy you.

And you smile.

Because your heart begins to thaw. Kindness starts to pervade, almost from no where.

And no you're just sitting, doing nothing. Nothing needs to be done anymore. Everything is just fine where it is. Maybe even more than fine. There is no pretending.

You change yourself not by becoming someone else, but by becoming what you already are, who you are, where you are.

Wallpaper for ya. Photo credit:

Friday, April 5, 2013

How can I tell my family that I don't want to spend the holidays with them?

Dear Edahn,

My spouse and I usually split holidays to avoid the guilt of not seeing one side or the other. I've found myself gradually leaning toward spending more time with my spouse's family and less time with mine. To be frank - I like them better as people and they treat me better as a person.

Now, how do I (a) stop feeling like a horrible child for ditching my family and (b) get my family to understand that I love them, but I don't need to see them every holiday.


Guilty Gal

A FAMILY IS REALLY an organism. It grows slowly, and every person plays a role, like organs all have a role in the body. The patterns that develop within a family aren't always healthy. He person might become a scapegoat, another a victim, another the aggressor. Everyone's role is maintained with the help of everyone else. In that way, the family drama, or theater, persists even when one person starts to doubt its health.

You sound like a person who has begun to doubt the health of your family dynamics, in part because you've seen how healthy families function because of your in-laws. Now you're feeling the pressure to maintain your part in your family's drama by playing the role of the person who's shit on. That's normal. But I think the thing you want to remember is that love can be expresses in many different ways. You show you grandfather love differently from the way you show your partner love (hopefully), which is still different from the way you show love to a best friend or a mentor. For years, you showed love to your family in one way, and now that you've changed, and grown, your relationship and the way you express your love needs to change too. That's not a bad thing--it's a part of growing, in the same way you might outgrow a favorite jacket and then turn it into an art piece.

In sum, it's not your love that changes; it's how you share it.

Got a question? Ask away. Average turn-around time is 3-6 days.