Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom helps people realize their unique importance. Using my knowledge of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, my experience with therapy, coaching, somatic healing, and personal growth I create products to help you discover, develop, and express the elements of your identity critical to your health and your contribution to our world. My goal is to research, develop, and disseminate these materials so that every individual can reconnect with their uniqueness, realize their passion and purpose, and live the life they were born to live.
In this Episode I talked about how important it is for humans to feel safe. We need to feel safe in the same way that we need food, water, and shelter. Feeling unsafe is exhausting and will do whatever it takes to feel safe. Truly, we spend all of our energy trying to escape a feeling of vulnerability. If we cannot reach a state of feeling safe, we will continue to waste our precious energy trying. As a result, many of us go through life exhausted.
In fact, this can be a huge issue if we don’t define safety accurately – or more precisely, if we are too severe in our expectations of safety. We can’t guarantee anything in life, and acquiring 100% safety is impossible. If we are unable to compromise, or to find safety from multiple sources, we are doomed to fail and to be anxious, depressed, and frightened.
This topic of episode plays into Episodes 54 and 55 about the Bully and your DNA, where the ‘Should’ voices in our heads are making it more and more difficult for us to achieve a feeling of safety, or that we are good enough. I hope you enjoy revisiting this Episode, or listing or watching for the first time. And please check out the Are vs Should series beginning with Episode 50.
Last week I introduced a few examples of the Are vs. Should problem. One of the most obvious examples comes up when we think about our careers. When we’re young people ask us what we want to be when we grow up. As adults, many of us wonder what became of those childhood dreams when we find ourselves doing jobs we don’t like. And I’ll argue it’s because we listen more to our Shoulds than to our Ares.
And this isn’t to say that Shoulds are all bad, because I think their intent is honorable. Our shoulds are single-minded in trying to keep us safe. As with our choice of career, the Should wants us to make enough money to take care of ourselves and to ‘be happy’. Unfortunately, the Should is a mosaic of all of the ‘responsible’ voices in our lives telling us what to do, how to think. and how to act in life in an effort to ‘be happy’.
The problem is, the Should isn’t YOU, and it doesn’t really understand what YOU want. The Should wants what ‘the world’ wants. What your teachers, parents, family, friends, and other close relationships want. The Should is modified by the tv we watch and the articles we read on the internet. The Should is deigned to keep the Are at bay, and to push this common agenda at all costs. I’ll talk more about the Are in Part 2 of this miniseries, but for now let’s just say your Are represents the ‘real you’ or your ‘true self’. Or something like that – whereas the Should is partly you, but is comprised of all the voices you hear everyday.
Historically, I think humans connected more with the ‘real you’, or ‘true self’. In other words, we used to listen to the Are more. The emerging problem is, we see a lot of Should in the world today. I’d say more and more people are spending more and more time in their Should than in years past, and humans are losing their Ares in the process.
I think a result of this increasing Should phenomenon is that the Should has become a bully. Rather than being just one of your many parts, the Bully has become the loudest, most feared, and threatening ally in our head. Due to the peaceful nature of our Are, the Should now represents the antithesis to the ‘real you’. The Should berates us, exaggerates reality, and will do anything to keep you from listening to your other parts. But it’s not only that the Should’s voice is becoming louder, it is becoming more and more stifling and homogenous.
The onset of social media, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), and the idea that everyone else is more perfect than you further strengthens our Shoulds. Now our Should aims even higher. To perfection, even, making it impossible to get even close to achieving what the Should would tell us to achieve. To the point where many therapists and counselors suggest we don’t use Should statements at all because this line of thinking sets us up for failure, depression, anxiety, and frustration.
So somehow this Should part of our ‘self’ has gotten way out of hand. The should is taking over who we imagine ourselves to be and creating anxiety, depression, and frustration. It is time to regain control of the voices in our heads by realizing there is a dictator in charge that needs to be checked. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to reconnect with, and listen to, your Are.
Next week I’ll talk about the Are and why it is critical to rediscover yours.
To hear more about the Should side of your self, listen or watch the full Episodes below.
The Are vs. Should problem is unfolding before our eyes right here at KEW, on YouTube, and your favorite podcast server. The next step for me, and hopefully you will find this helpful, is to lay out the philosophical personalities of the Are and Should elements of ourselves. To me, the Should part can best be described as a bully, and the Are part best described as your DNA.
Bullies get their way.
Bullies continue to push your buttons to hurt you.
Bullies prey on our greatest weaknesses.
The Are, then, is your ‘real self’ and, to me, can best be describes, at the deepest level, by your personal DNA.
The Are is the unique you.
The Should is a big bully trying to make you into something else.
In this first of two Episodes, I’ll go in deep to characterize the Should Bully and how incredibly pervasive this personality has become in today’s society.
Full Episode, in podcast and video forms, coming right here this Friday.
After talking to Mandy and realizing she had something special, I decided to do sign up for coaching. I spent 12 weeks with Mandy and learned near as much as I had in ten years of therapy.
Though Mandy’s coaching is aimed at making high achievers even better, she has a lot to offer ‘normal people’ like me. Mostly I FINALLY learned to believe that mindset and understanding our personal values are critical elements to personal growth. Mandy was able to help me get ‘unstuck’ and move passed these roadblocks.
I hope you choose to listen to this entire interview because there are many gems that might help you get unstuck as well. You can find out more about Mandy and her coaching on her personal website https://mindsetforsuccess.com.au/about-mandy/.
As we move forward trying to discern the gist of the Are vs. Should Problem, I want to describe both the general dilemma and share a few specific examples. Generally speaking, you know you are in the Are vs. Should Problem when you experience discomfort, cognitive dissonance, anxiety, fear, anger, and other uncomfortable emotions. Of course, there could be many causes for these states of mind and it’s ALWAYS hard to identify the cause. It’s like when my kids get sick I always want to know where and when they picked up the virus or bacteria. We are all Sherlock Holmes to some degree and need to know WHY things happen. With the Are vs Should Problem it is difficult because the symptoms are so universal.
On the other hand, it could be that any discomfort, to some degree, is RELATED to the Are vs. Should problem and I make the assumption that this is nearly always the case. Despite the multitude of things that can happen to a human and the variety of reactions we can have, I’ll argue that the cognitive dissonance related to these reactions is in part a result of the struggle between who you ARE and who you think you SHOULD BE.
If you look at the Episodes I have recorded, you will see the Are vs. Should problem at work in many forms. Analysis Paralysis is something we all experience where we can’t make a decision, get anxious, and lose the ability to move forward. To some degree, this is a result of the conflict between what the person we ARE would do, and what society/family/job tells us we SHOULD do. We all experience internal conflict and Doubt about our decisions and what the outcomes will be. This is the essence of the Are vs. Should problem. Similarly, struggles between narcissists and codependents epitomize the ARE and SHOULD extremes between two different people where each person is struggling between extremes of selfishness and caretaking.
Though I can’t yet offer distinct solutions about which voice to listen to, I do know that this struggle is fairly universal. I talk about this in episode about different vs. the same. I think this is because the struggle between these competing personalities (ARE vs. SHOULD) can be isolating and lead us to spend a lot of time ‘in our heads’ and at the very least we need to be aware of how isolating this struggle can be. When we are in our heads, we are feeling more pressure from the SHOULD and need to get more inside our ARE. Think about it, who is the voice in your head most of the time? Who are you talking to? Who are you?? The more in your head you are, the more ‘should’ you are being.
Which person do you want to be? This is where we will be headed in future episodes. This is the type of person you are being – but is it the type of person you want to be?? Who do you REALLY want to be? The are or the should? This dissonance can be mild or critical. This is what the personal inventory is all about, identifying and ranking your traits and prioritizing what to do about it.
In this episode I share a few examples ranging from fairly benign to critically important. Struggles between the ARE and SHOULD can create chronic anxiety, stress, and fear. Do you want to live in a state of anxiety all the time? Our perspectives about gender roles or blue and pink jobs can greatly influence some people’s choices and experiences. Isn’t it important we figure out what matters to us as individuals and each other? Does it really matter if a woman wears pants to work or makes as much money as her male counterparts? Some times it most certainly does matter, and the potential outcomes are disastrous. Other times it might not matter so much. It comes down to the type of society we want to live in and be (see the Dream Bigger Episode) and what rules we think are worth defending, and which ones are not.
The first step, again, is to lay out your Personal Inventory prioritize each item, and decide what matters. This will determine your personal values and beliefs.
In upcoming episodes I will discuss how these personal values lead to society-level norms, rules, and laws. I will start to dissect how the ARE and SHOULD come to be, and ultimately, how learning not to care what people think goes a long way to choosing which voices you want to hear.
I’m struggling a bit at the beginning of the Are vs. Should Problem I have been discussing in Episodes 51-53. So far, I have introduced the problem; that we all struggle with the person that we ARE and the person we think we SHOULD BE. I have described the first step toward a solution in taking a Personal Inventory. Next, I tried to begin the process of examining the personal inventory by separating items as being described by Hard and Soft realities. This may not make perfect sense yet, but I promise it will.
In Episode 53, the fourth installment, I share a handful of examples and situations for you to ponder in your own life or others’ lives. Situations where you may experience the dichotomy of Are vs. Should. There are infinite examples, but this is one of those things that our minds, or our Ego, can talk us out of. We protect ourselves from being aware of the Are vs. Should by living in the Should. (I suppose there are those who live in the Are, and I am envious and very curious to know more about those people). The Should mind beats us up. It tells us we are not good enough. It convinces us that people look down on us and that our shortcomings are things we have to cover up or change. The Should mind is a bully.
The Are mind can appear to be a push over, childish, or be hidden from view by the overpowering Should bully. In other words, the Are side of us is sometimes hard to see. The personal inventory is one means of examining ourselves objectively, and determining whether an item or experience or belief belongs on the Are vs. Should side.
Hopefully, this weeks’ Episode will be helpful during the examination process. Full Episode coming Friday.
In this first of ten Curiosity interviews I introduce you to Paul Gadola. As I told Paul a few days ago, he is someone who has climbed the mountain, attainted Wisdom, and come back down the mountain to share the Wisdom with us. He has not only put a lot of energy into figuring some things out, he is putting a lot of energy into explaining what he has learned. Chief among his tenets is to Love yourself first. I think you get a pretty good glimpse at that person in the hour that we talked.
I’m proud to share this experience with you, and grateful to have come to know Paul as a colleague and buddy. We talk about Curiosity, but also about self discipline, integrity, and Love. If I never shared this interview with the world I would still be a better person for having experienced it. I truly hope you take the time to watch and to listen to what Paul shares. There is much to learn and more to think about.
I am also fortunate to be reading a draft of book Paul is working on. I will be sure to keep you posted as that evolves.
I am learning that our brain, mind, head, is not who we ARE. We are not the VOICE in our heads, we are the one LISTENING to the voice in our heads. What we call ‘our head’ is largely our analytical mind, and it’s just a part of the larger ‘us’ or ‘self’.
Yeah, that’s a lot to ingest. And it’s a lot for me to type out and mean. It’s a compilation of things I’ve learned over the last decade. In traditional talk therapy. Through the myriad self help, neuroscience, and personal growth books I’ve read. And, more recently, through some somatic healing work I’ve been doing. But the more I learn, the more I realize – at the VERY LEAST – our ‘head’ is only one part of us.
I think many of us have lived the majority of our lives in our heads. And it makes sense. Our heads communicate in the same language we speak. Our heads offer us company and advice. Our heads seem like ‘us’. And, I guess, they are. But our head does not have to be our boss. In fact, our head doesn’t always have the right answers. Our head isn’t always the best source of advice. Our head is comprised of multiple parts that might actually be less helpful as advisors than our body, our heart, or ‘gut’. Certainly, it is worth getting to know the multiple parts that comprise our selves, and ‘getting out of our heads’ is an entry point to that pathway.
Getting out of our heads can begin by simply not listening to the voices that arise there. Meditation is a great method to learn how to not listen. Rather than reinventing the wheel, following a meditation plan to stop the ‘monkey mind’, ‘self talk’, ‘chatter’, and other noise that goes on in our heads is an excellent primer on this process.
And once you can stop listening to your analytical mind, the doors open up to listen to all the other parts of you. For me, the discovery that I am more than just my analytical mind has been absolutely life changing. It’s the closest thing to magic I’ve ever experienced. It’s why I tried psychedelic drugs in my youth. It’s what I have longed for my whole life – and it was there all along. Now that I have learned to listen to my body instead of my mind, I have truly started to change.
The concept of a personal inventory is common to many therapy, personal growth, and coaching approaches. Essentially, before you can implement a change, you have to know WHAT you’re changing. So the personal inventory is all your STUFF.
And so on. You get the picture. But what many of us DON’T GET is how complex this can be. We are a LOT more complicated than we think.
And before we can pursue the ARE vs. SHOULD problem (Episode 50), we have to know what (WHO) we’re dealing with (Episode 49: Who Are You?). The process of laying out your personal inventory is the first step.
Please subscribe to my YouTube channel or Podcast if you want to follow the development of the ARE vs. SHOULD problem. And more importantly, comment below if you have input, criticism, or insight.
“I meant no harm I most truly did not, but I had to grow bigger so bigger I got. I biggered my factory, I biggered my roads, I biggered the wagons, I biggered the loads, of the Thneeds I shipped out I was shipping them forth from the South, to the East, to the West. To the North, I went right on biggering selling more thneeds. And I biggered my money which everyone needs.” ― Dr Seuss, from the Lorax
A key tenet in what I think is wrong with the world is the obsession with growth. This quote from the Lorax, and pretty much the whole book, gets at this sentiment. Where did we learn that growth is essential? Or that growth is infinite? Or that NOT growing = death?
Was it in economics courses in school? Maybe. That’s what I assume, but I can’t say I remember (I got a D in college economics anyway, so . . . )
Was it from our parents? Our first jobs?
I guess it doesn’t matter, but suffice it to say the concept of growth being a healthy and necessary thing is something many of us learned somewhere, somehow.
But if we look more closely, I think it’s just incorrect. And that’s what this episode is about.
Here’s the original post with links to the audio and YouTube. Please subscribe and peruse the back catalog of my other 50 Episodes and interviews!