Self-Actualization 101: Unravelling “The Four Agreements”

Humans hardly know what they want, how they want it, or when they want it.” 
― don Miguel Ruiz

I admit it. I am a personal development nerd. Perhaps, it’s because I am still searching for the best version of myself and my life ― as well as a way to heal from the experiences that have (gratefully) led me to this moment in time. But, with each new nuance of enlightenment comes another level of responsibility.

Lately, I have been thinking about the “The Four Agreements.” If you have not read don Miguel Ruiz’s multi-layered, yet elegantly simple work of modern philosophy, I urge you to grab your copy immediately. It’s more than “a great deal” on Amazon Prime Day. It will utterly transform the way you see your life ― and live it. This platform gives you a fresher, healthier way to engage in relationships, activities and even difficult encounters. It’s another installment in my continuing #InsideJob series.

The real challenge is practicing them in a disciplined away ― basting your brain in profound yet practical consciousness until it becomes second nature.  Perhaps, that’s why all Four Agreements are so appealing. In a way, they are a practical guide to peace. I am just going to take each one, summarize it and then, briefly provide an action item. Pretty sensible, right? Try them out, and let me know what happens. (We’ll start with the first two in this post.)

Agreement 1: Be impeccable with your word. 

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using your word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

I think this means consciously aligning your words with your truth and heart. Your words are your power to create ― and they are an extension of your divine energy.  Choose them carefully, because they can manifest your reality before you know it. They can also deplete, diminish, discount and sabotage. So, be mindful in every moment ― “one mindfully in the moment,” as we say in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Yet, this is easier said than done ― especially when you consider Dr. Joe Dispenza’s observation in “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself”:

Even when we engage our conscious minds, they comprise only about 5% of who we are. The     other 95% is a composition of our subconscious minds ― our habits and behaviors that have been deeply programmed on our mental hard drives throughout our lives.

In other words, it takes work. We may all need to spend some quality time in #BrainBootcamp, but the glorious payoff is the confidence to take full responsibility for your actions. Release any element of judgment or blame by speaking from this authentic place of kindness, love and truth. Wow, wouldn’t that make a difference in our divided world?

ACTION ITEM: Pay attention to the actual words you use today ― and those other people say to you. They are potent messengers. For instance, what is your default when you respond to a compliment? What words do you say? Do you express a desire by planting yourself firmly and saying, “I need . . .”  How does that feel?  How comfortable do you feel asking a question in a meeting or open forum? Become aware of your own inner dialogue (or that pesky inner  critic) ― how you speak to yourself. I know I find myself saying things like, “Goofball, why did you do that?”  That’s not helpful. Rewiring, Will Robinson! Write them down, and then consider how you can turn them around to produce a more positive result.

Agreement 2: Don’t take anything personally. 

This one is the game changer for me, but then, as an over-functioner from way back, I tend to be far too focused on what other people are doing, saying or thinking.  It’s all about understanding how to set healthy boundaries.  But, here’s the deal ― nothing other people do is because of you. Period. What someone says and does is simply a projection of his or her own reality. Ruiz says, “All people live in their own dream, in their own mind.” It’s not your version of the world. What’s worse, taking things personally makes you ripe for abuse and pain. When you are impervious to the opinions and actions of others, you take back your power, escape needless suffering and find peace on your own terms. Love that.

ACTION ITEM: Make a list of people who seem to “push your buttons.” Notice where you end and where the other person begins in any given conversation. You do not need to take another person’s bad behavior personally. You may notice an emotional impact, but you are free to choose whether to continue engaging or not. Knowing it is not about you is incredibly freeing.

The trauma other folks express goes far deeper than the current interaction with you. However, even though the behavior is not about you, your reaction to it may have something to teach you about you. What is it triggering? What wounds are you activating in you subconsciously? Ruiz says, “You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you.”  What a productive way to contextualize difficult folks in your life.

The first two are magic. Love them so much.  Next post will look at the other two. Can’t wait! Stay tuned. 

Emotional Intelligence

JP_BrainIt seems so simple.

Our thoughts create our reality. Research tells us our brains are constantly changing, evolving and reconfiguring in response to our environments and every new nugget of data we encounter.  But, how many of us really pay attention to our thoughts ― every single notion swirling around in that molten miasma of emotions, desires and unconscious habits?  Well,  Dr. Joe Dispenza is answering that question, and he says we can actually rewire our brains to create whatever we want ― out of our own primordial stew.

Nerve cells that fire together wire together, “ Dispenza says.

So lately, I’ve been thinking about this perplexing cerebral frontier in the context of marketing. Dispenza confirms what I learned more than 20 years ago when I did some work for an innovative boutique market research firm called Addison Marketing Group.  It all starts with basic anatomy ― we have three brains:

  • Neocortex ― the newest, most evolved brain. It is walnut-shaped and governs conscious awareness, cognition, problem-solving, language and information gathering. It is the brain’s CEO.
  • Limbic Brain ― the emotional brain. The size of a lemon, it controls functions related to anger, happiness, fear, as well as memories ― and regulates internal chemical order.
  • Reptilian Brain or Cerebellum ― the oldest brain. It maintains habits and holds the seat of the subconscious mind.

Here’s the rub ― each one of these brains communicates using a very different language.  Understanding how they function can definitely inform our approaches to building effective marketing strategies ― not to mention enhance our mental health and happiness.

Though I was introduced to the concept of “Whole-Brain Marketing” many years ago, it’s resonated with me throughout my career ― and produced consistently powerful results. The idea is this:

  • Lead with a compelling message to trigger an emotion, such as a pain point . . . (Like: Is the Hassle of Finding Leads Wearing You Out?  (or) When her nightmare becomes her reality . . .
  • Follow with logical reasons to act/buy
  • Provide an easy, comfortable way to conduct the transaction

This sequence addresses the neocortex, the limbic brain and reptilian circuitry. The challenge is in identifying the appropriate subconscious messages ― and the execution, of course.

The alchemy of message creation and testing becomes even more complex when you consider Dispenza’s revelation that even when we do engage our conscious minds, they comprise only about 5% of who we are. The other 95% is a composition of our subconscious minds ― our habits and behaviors that have been deeply programmed on our mental hard drives throughout our lives. In fact, behavioral economist George Lowenstein confirms “our subconscious explains our consumer behavior better than our conscious. 90 percent of all purchasing decisions are not made consciously.”

If people aren’t aware of their own truth, shouldn’t we question the veracity of any traditional polling of market research? We are all making choices and decisions, but we really don’t know why. It’s sobering. Certainly, we are all driven by unconscious motivations to varying degrees ― unless we have done lots of therapy or meditative work.

That’s why mindfulness is so important. Mindfulness is the process of actively noticing new things — putting ourselves in the present moment and taking responsibility for our reactions.  This gives us room to respond. It’s the ancillary judgments we bring to the “party” or a situation that cause us pain, anxiety and suffering.

Practices such as meditation and quantum healing can begin to tap into the vast 95% ― so we can become clearer about who we are and what we want. Dispenza says that’s how we change our brains ― and the world. It’s how we start rewiring our minds to be at peace with ourselves ― and then, every relationship in our sphere becomes more peaceful, expansive and loving.

It’s an #insidejob.  Are your marketing mindfulness?