فصل 02کتاب: خود را برهان / فصل 2
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“I am willing.”
“Stop blaming luck. Stop blaming other people. Stop pointing to outside influences or circumstances.”
You have the life you’re willing to put up with.
Think about it. What are the problems, those heinous, dark shadows currently spoiling the warmth and happiness of your otherwise blissful life?
Do you hate your job? Are you in a bad relationship? Is there something wrong with your health? Fine, get a new job. End the relationship. Change your diet and exercise or locate the kind of help you need. Seems simple doesn’t it? Even the things you seemingly had no say in, like the death of a loved one or losing your business, you have a MASSIVE say in the ways you live your life in the aftermath of those events.
If you’re not willing to take the actions to change your situation – in other words, if you’re willing to put up with your situation – then whether you like it or not, that is the life you have chosen.
Before you think “but…” or start to get your knickers in a twist…let me say one more thing: By defending your circumstances as they are right now, you are actually making a case for being where you are. Give it up.
No buts. You can’t afford them. They’re excess baggage on a trip that requires you to travel light.
“Circumstances don’t make the man; they only reveal him to himself.”
As Epictetus points to, the true measure of who you are won’t be found in your circumstances but rather the way in which you respond to them. To start this new process, you must first stop another one.
Stop blaming luck.
Stop blaming other people.
Stop pointing to outside influences or circumstances.
Stop blaming your childhood or neighborhood.
This approach is fundamental to everything that I talk about in these pages. You cannot, I repeat CANNOT dwell in any blame game in your life. Even blaming yourself is completely useless. Of course you’ll face situations that you seemingly can’t control. You may even face tragic circumstances, like disability, disease, or the death of a loved one.
But there is always something you can do to impact those circumstances even if you’ve had them for years and still can’t see a way. But first, you must be willing. To fully embrace my approach, you must first accept that while there are things have happened in your life that you had no say in, you are 100% responsible for what you do with your life in the aftermath of those events. Always, every time, no excuses.
The dictionary describes willingness as – “The quality or state of being prepared: Readiness”.
In other words, willingness is a state in which we can engage with life and see a situation from a new perspective. It starts with you and ends with you. No one can make you willing, and you cannot move forward until you really are willing to make the next move.
When you are finally willing, you can literally experience that willingness, that innate freedom that courses through your veins and similarly when you are not, the kind of primordial stuck-ness that halts, and presses down on you like some invisible weight on your chest.
Believe me, I hear you, “I am willing but…”. Every time you add the “but” to the end of that statement, you turn yourself into the victim. In my many years as a coach and mentor, I have heard as many complex life situations as there are, from the darkest of pasts to the weight and gravity of the present or crippling fear of the future, I have heard them over and over and over again. You have to hear what I am saying in the way that it’s intended. I’m not saying these things to inflame you, well, maybe I am but the intention is to inflame you to your own potential, to realize your own greatness, not just to piss you off! Take the case, imagine for a moment, that willingness is missing in your life. Not some wispy, sheepish willingness but rather a bold willingness, the kind of willing state where you are ready for what’s next and ready to act on it. Willingness to change, willingness to let go, willingness to accept. Real, magical, inspired willingness.
FINDING THE DOOR
“Fate leads the willing and drags along the reluctant”
Either you control your destiny, or your destiny will control you. Life won’t stop for your pauses and procrastinations. It won’t stop for your confusion or fear. It will continue right along without you. Whether you play an active part or not, the show will go on.
That’s why one of the first personal assertions I teach to my clients is: “I am willing”.
Before you can say that to yourself honestly, you must first ask yourself the question is, “Am I willing?” That question demands an answer. It can’t just be left there in the nothingness of the universe. Am I willing? It pulls for a response. Am I willing? Its power is irresistible; I cannot escape its press for truth.
Am I willing to go to the gym?
Am I willing to work on that project I’ve been putting off?
Am I willing to face my social fears?
Am I willing to ask for a raise or quit this
In short, are you willing to stop living the life you have and start living the life you’re after? It ALL begins with the emergence of willingness, that liquid, constantly expanding and contracting state where life springs and cedes—and all of it is within you at the flick of a linguistic switch.
We often view ourselves as procrastinators or lazy or unmotivated. When in reality, we’re simply unwilling. We put things off or avoid them completely because we tell ourselves we just don’t want to do it or that we can’t do it.
Instead of viewing this behavior as a character flaw, let’s create a sense of willingness where there is apparently none. A spark of potential, if you like. You are a master generator of this state of openness and potential. Once upon a time in your life, this state was easy to access, enlivened by the vigor of youth or the curiosity of childhood. Somehow, over the years, we lost touch with this magical state.
The famous philosopher and political scientist Niccolo Machiavelli once said,
“Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great”.
Consider that for a second. It does not matter what you’re facing in life, which obstacle you’re trying to overcome – if you are willing to generate that state of willingness, that’s your doorway to making the effort, taking the steps, dealing with the setbacks, and ultimately creating the progress and change in your life that you’re seeking.
That’s why such a simple statement – “I am willing” – is so profound. You become enlivened and empowered by its promise, open to its allure.
I ask again: are you willing?
WHEN THE DOOR IS CLOSED
Maybe you are in fact, unwilling. In many cases, that may actually be the best answer you can give.
Sometimes declaring your unwillingness can be just as powerful as declaring willingness.
Are you willing to live with a body that’s unhealthy? No. Are you willing to continue living paycheck to paycheck? No. Are you willing to put up with unworkable, unsustainable relationships? No.
I AM UNWILLING!!
Unwillingness ignites resolve and determination. It provides an access to taking a robust and urgent approach to your situation. When you are unwilling it often represents a line in the sand where you are no longer willing to go back the way.
Only when you’re unwilling to continue just simply existing, feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled, will you make the effort necessary to make a change. Only when you’re unwilling to put up with the bullshit any longer will you grab your shovel and start digging. At times there is no greater motivation to change than the unwillingness to do “this” any longer. Which one works for you in your life currently? I am willing or I am unwilling? Can you see how being unwilling can potentially be just as powerful as being willing?
Depending on the circumstance, some of us feel more empowered by the assertion, “I am willing,” while for others declaring “I am unwilling” gives them strength and resolve. You might find yourself motivated by both equally depending on the situation.
Whichever category you fall into, you can not only shift the personal assertion, you can re-frame the way you approach your problems.
For example, are you willing to find a new job? Yes. “I am willing.” Are you willing to stay in a job you hate? No. “I am unwilling”.
Both assertions can be just as effective. It’s up to you to determine which one fits your persona and situation. Which one “does it” for you?
THE POWER OF PURPOSE
There’s another way for your unwillingness to free you from the hamster wheel because sometimes it doesn’t matter what you ask yourself or how many times you’ve said it; you just can’t muster the willingness long enough to change anything. You might well be one of life’s great-starters-but-not-finishers. At the end of it all, you might have to face the cold reality that you have been all too willing to remain the same. You have been unwilling to fundamentally change your life and lose that weight for good, that somewhere in there you are ok with living this way. I mean, come on, you must be or you would have changed it by now! At some level you must have some tolerance to having your life turn out like this.
That’s actually okay. Getting straight with yourself about having made the decision to stay where you are can be just as powerful as the decision to move. Why? Because sometimes recognizing that you willingly put yourself in a place where you are unhappy is often all the impetus required to make an opening for real and lasting change. This has to be done without blaming yourself and turning yourself into a victim of some internal blip or character “flaw”. In the moment you realize you have cognitively and systematically put yourself here, guess what? That’s right, you can cognitively and systematically get yourself out! This is also the foundation of granting yourself the grace of acceptance, of embracing what has been and daring yourself to reach for an unimaginable future.
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has”
By stating and facing your unwillingness to change, you can take stock of yourself and your life and begin to create a sliver of light for you to at least start. The secret is, once you’ve separated the task (or whatever it is you are dealing with), from the drama of the past, you may find yourself more open to tackling it. You’ll be able to get past the emotional swirl and straight to the heart of the issue itself.
REACHING FOR THE STARS WITH SHORT ARMS
Some goals simply aren’t connected to our reality. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for reaching for the stars and striving for things that seem impossible. For instance, we’d probably all like to be filthy rich. But are you willing to do what it takes to make that much money? Are you willing to work 60, 70 or 80 hours of your week or skip vacations to do the work that needs to get done? Are you willing to take on more responsibility and, importantly, risk it all? Have you, in reality, confronted and dealt with what becoming filthy rich might really demand of you? The seemingly endless drain on your life and mind space? Our society has produced such a headlong rush to be the wealthiest, the smartest, the prettiest, the best dressed, the funniest or the strongest, and somewhere in there we have lost the ability to just be ourselves, free to breathe life and choose our own path rather than carry the burden of social or familial expectation. What does all that produce? Well, a lot of disappointed and unfulfilled human beings that’s for sure.
That doesn’t mean you should stop pursuing amazing life goals if that’s what you really want. It also doesn’t mean you should let yourself stagnate and stop improving either. There’s nothing inherently wrong in working long hours and sacrificing your quality of life, and some people might be perfectly content doing so in order to make the income or get the career they want. But so many of us have actually forgotten why we are pursuing what we are pursuing in the first place.
All too often, we focus solely on what we don’t have, even though deep down we don’t really need it or perhaps even want it. When I lay these things out, you might be nodding your head. “He’s right, I don’t need to be a millionaire” or “I don’t even really want six-pack abs.” Which of course is all fine until the next time you see that nice car and think, “Why don’t I have that?”, or when you look at the cover of a magazine and wonder, “Why don’t I look like that?” or “Why aren’t my clothes that nice?” Making sure we’re striving for what we really want requires a constant check-in with ourselves. It’s not a one-and-done deal.
If you really want those things, then go get them! Begin today, lay out your strategy, deal with your reality and, most importantly, take the actions required and take them often!
But if you’re not willing to work an extra 10 or 20 hours a week just to drive to work in a BMW instead of a Honda, give up the complete waste of precious headspace to yearn for it. Stop pretending to yourself. Deal with your unwillingness to take on the kind of actions accomplishing those things would require and accept that you have been bullshitting yourself. You’ll have a lot more capacity for loving the life you actually do have and create some room to begin striving for the things you actually want in life.
“I am unwilling” to give up all of my favorite foods just to have the body I did when I was 20. “I am unwilling” to trade time with my family for an extra zero on my paycheck.
Face your reality. Once you adopt the mindset of “I am unwilling”, you will no longer be filled with guilt, resentment or regret every time you see something you think you “want”. You’ll be in a place where you are connected to and in tune with your real life and, if you really want to pursue those things in the future, you’ll be able to locate yourself from that reality and plot your road to accomplish them.
CHART YOUR PATH
One of the beautiful things about really taking a hard look at your life and goals is that doing so forces you to re-evaluate the path that leads to them.
Is exercising 30 minutes a day really as impossible as your mind has built it up to be? Sure, you’re going to get a little sweaty and tired but you can throw on your favorite music to help the time go by faster. And, even though it might start out painfully, you’ll eventually get used to that and grow stronger.
What’s the worst thing that can happen if you offer your idea in that meeting? It gets shot down? So what? Even if you’re faced with bigger tasks—MUCH bigger tasks like years of back taxes, a hoarder’s paradise of a garage, telling the truth to someone you’ve been lying to—the path to change starts with that same glimmer of willingness.
Bear in mind we all tend to build things up in our minds to be a lot bigger than they really are. Telling the truth becomes a trek to the Sahara Desert and back. If that’s the case for you, try breaking the task down into smaller declarations of willingness to “stand up”, “get out of bed”, “open my email”, etc.
Of course you might well be dealing with something much bigger than these examples but even when you ramp it up, the same model works exceptionally well. Let’s say you have been holding onto a dark secret. Maybe you’re ashamed or guilty or resentful. Perhaps this is something that could change your life in a significant way. “Am I willing to tell the truth to that person I’ve been lying to?” When you frame it this way, coming clean becomes an occasion to talk, listen and then deal with the consequences. You might be dreading it but you can do it. It’s not the task that’s important, it’s the life that’s available after that’s at stake here. When you are free to be open and available, with nothing held back, no lies, no withholds or half-truths, you really are your most expressive, most alive self.
Most of the time, the task we’re actually facing is a lot simpler than we think it is. The problem is, we usually don’t take the time to really look at it. Some of the things we face certainly can be challenging, but at the same time what’s on the other side of those challenges is a life of our dreams. A life where we are willing and open and inspired to take it on.
Make that assertion, “I am willing.”
PLANT YOUR FLAG
When you start to view the world through the lens of what you’re willing and unwilling to pursue, rather than what it seems you want and don’t want, things start to become a lot clearer.
Instead of wasting time worrying about the things other people have, you’ll start focusing on what’s really important to you and your life. You’ll realize that once you replace envy, lust, and desire with a willingness to change your life for the better, things really start to take shape.
When we understand what we are genuinely willing to do, we take back control over the subconscious thoughts and feelings that previously directed our behavior away from where we truly wanted to go. You have the ability to determine what your truth is and not from some sub-conscious glitch that keeps popping up from the past either but instead from your cognitive and conscious self, from the power of intervening on behalf of yourself. Willingness is a truth, a true beauty that only you can generate. No longer will thoughts like “I am a failure because I’m not a millionaire” or “I am lazy because I’m not a size 6,” have the power to make you feel like crap because you will have owned your choices. Once you frame the obstacles in your life as a matter of “willing” and “unwilling” – instead of weighing yourself down with negative opinions of yourself and your circumstances, you can break through the self-imposed barriers that are truly holding you back. You can see through the distractions of self-talk and drama.
You’ll realize that when you’re willing to do what it takes, nothing else matters. You won’t put off the things you’re truly willing to do. You won’t neglect the responsibilities you took on because you will feel the strong sense of willingness to do them.
Willingness. It’s the lifeblood of the new, the infinite well of possibility and potential, a state where new futures arise and a whole new you can begin.
Ask yourself “am I willing?” over and over until you can hear it, first thing in the morning, last thing at night, while you’re driving, while in the shower, “Am I willing?” Ask, ask, ask until a resounding YES echoes through your consciousness. I AM WILLING!
I ask you again, “Are you willing?”.
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