“Relationship is an art. The dream that two is more difficult to master than one. To keep the two of you happy, you have to keep your half perfect. You are responsible for your half, and your half has a certain amount of garbage.”

— Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love


Week 1
Removing barriers: pre-judging


INTRO: It is true that a relationship is made up equally of two halves. In order to maintain happiness within the relationship, both halves must be responsible for their own happiness; not the other way around. In no circumstance, should one half rely on the other half for happiness. This is why we begin our Learning Series by focusing on the self.

Our upbringing and past life experiences shape who we are today. These experiences filter the way we view ourselves, our circumstances, and the relationships we have with other people. It’s human tendency to attach meaning and significance to these experiences. However, the meaning you give to your experience and the experience itself are two completely different things. We apply a meaning to this experience based on our past. Our past always dictates our perception (aka "our reality) of our current situations and expectations of the future. The collapse of the actual experience with the interpretation we give to that experience happens so fast it’s difficult to separate the two and we think of them as one. Immediately, this interpretation becomes our own reality.  

We need to become aware of the difference between what happened and our interpretation of what happened. This is the first step to breaking through the influence that impacts our relationships with ourselves, our circumstances, and our relationships with people. An awareness of these filters, and a recognition of the limits they impose, allows for freedom. People, situations, and our perspective on life alter drastically. 

In other words, you have the power to choose how you will perceive your current situation and what to expect in your future. Your past does NOT need to determine your future. An awareness of this fact opens doors to limitless possibilities immediately. We learn how to apply this new realization in our next lesson.

 

Assignment #1

Answer the following questions.

Q: Have you given false meaning or “created a story” about a past situation that is limiting your joy and effectiveness today? Give an example.

Q: Have you allowed your pre-existing ideas and past experiences to influence the way you view other people or situations? Give an example.

Week 2
Removing barriers: choosing vs deciding


In the last exercise, you became aware of the influence of your interpretations of previous life experiences. It should now be apparent that these interpretations have impacted how you view yourself, your circumstances, and your relationships with others. They have shaped your environment. They have set the context from which you live your daily life.

Once this realization is achieved, you can begin to notice the process by which context governs our daily lives. The next step is to become aware that we have the power to CHOOSE who we are, separate from these contexts.

One common viewpoint is that we, as humans, have to make decisions based on existing options. We believe that certain circumstances have produced certain outcomes and that we have to react to these outcomes. However, we shouldn’t have to make decisions based on existing options. We shouldn’t have to only react. We should have the ability to create our own options. Therefore, choice should be viewed as the ability to create your own outcome, not merely react, or select among, existing options.

You have the choice of how you view things and how you take action. You choose who you are and who want to be. You are the author of your life in all situations. 

 

Assignment #2

Answer the following questions:
Q: Do you possess a life goal that seems out of reach?
Q: What past experiences have led you to believe that your goal is unattainable?

Incorporate the following exercise into your daily life:
Anytime a negative thought arises, become aware that you are experiencing a negative thought and STOP the thought process. Then reroute your thought to a positive one.

Week 3
Breaking unproductive patterns: realizing your way of being


It’s human tendency to focus on the negative while only allowing short bursts of content over the positive. After we experience our content over a positive life event, we immediately move on to the next goal or event. However, when a negative event takes place, we dwell over it. As a human race, we have gotten so good on dwelling on the negative that it’s easy to think something is wrong even when there isn’t.

This is an unproductive way of being that includes a complaint that something shouldn’t be the way it is.

By recognizing this pattern, we have the CHOICE to interrupt the cycle and reroute our thoughts and actions to achieve new levels of happiness and fulfillment in areas that are most important to us. Our mind is the most important tool to leading the life we want.

Neuroscientists have researched the brain and it’s amazing capability to actively re-wire itself. The brain can actually change as a result of our thoughts. One single thought can alter neuronal connections in a way so substantial, it has been known to treat mental illness or increase a person's capacity for feeling empathy or compassion.

When you realize that everything is just a product of your thoughts and perceptions, then comes the realization that you can create anything. You can actively re-wire your own brain to achieve new levels of contentment. 

 

Assignment #3

Answer the following questions

Q: What are your unproductive ways of being? Again, unproductive ways of being include a complaint that something shouldn’t be the way it is.

Q: What is it costing you? For example, is it keeping you from achieving happiness and fulfillment? Is it holding you back from achieving a life goal?

Week 4
Breaking unproductive patterns: rethinking possibility


Possibility, as we understand it, means being something that has the potential to occur, meaning something that may or may not occur. When we think of what we would like to achieve in our lives, it is human tendency to think of it as a possibility. However, in this exercise we learn to alter this perception of what possibility means.

Possibility has the power to shift our state of being. It has the power to shape our thoughts, beliefs, and actions to create the life we want right now, not someday in the future. When we set goals for ourselves, we think of them as a possible, future achievement. These goals are not apart of our lives yet. We still have to take steps toward achieving that goal. If your goal is to write a book, you may view it as something that has the possibility of happening in the future. You would need to write the first word, the first paragraph, the first page, and so on, until you complete the book. Taking that very first step is one of the hardest parts. Forming the habit is even tougher. However, you can use your words and perception to call into existence what already is.

This new belief opens up a whole new world of possibilities. We are now filled with the inspiration and power to create the lives we want for ourselves right now. We will go further in-depth on this topic in our next (and most powerful) lesson, Transformation through Language. 

 

Assignment #4

Review the last four weeks of our learning series:

(a) Practice being aware of your thoughts and how they influence the way you view yourself, situations, and other people.

(b) When a negative thought arises, stop the thought process, and reroute to a positive thought.

(c) When you experience a positive event, take time to congratulate yourself. When experiencing a negative event, learn from it, and move on. No dwelling.

(d) Get ready for week #5- transforming your life. This is the most important week of the “Finding Love” series. 

Week 5
Transformation: transformation through language


Thought and language are tools for achieving the life you imagined for yourself. We will learn how thinking patterns and language can be used to access power and transformation.

Note that we do not use the word change, rather we use the word transformation. This is due to the fact that the word change signifies looking into your past to see how you can improve your current circumstance. To effect change, we go to work on altering these circumstances, the people around us, and ourselves. We believe that change yields a different and improved version of our past.

In contrast, transformation signifies that you call into existence what hasn’t been. Transformation is an act of bringing forth or inventing. It is something created. In other words, you design your life based on what is possible rather than what has been. Stop trying to change things in your life. Instead, create the life you want. We will practice this through the power of language.

In order to create the life we want, we have to do work. This part involves doing some hard thinking and soul searching for what makes you feel full of vitality. What makes you feel passionate. What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning. Where do you see yourself in five years or ten years.

Create a list of what you imagine your life to be. It could include reaching a health and fitness goal, making a career jump, learning a language, finishing your master’s degree, finding the love of your life. You can create anything you want in this life. Make sure you feel passion and excitement when you think about it.

Once you have done the hard part and figured out what you imagine your life to be, we gain power to achieve this transformation through language.

Language is commonly thought of as an access to the world. In order to connect with the world, we learn language. However, imagine that language is what calls the world into existence. Language can alter circumstances. Language is your new tool to create and achieve your goals.

Our first step is realizing that we are not changing the past and we are not trying to achieve a future goal. We are calling into existence what we want to achieve now, at this very moment. If I were to say, I’m going to be open and ready to give and receive love," this would imply that someday I will be ready. However, if I say, “I am open and ready to give and receive love," I am saying who I am being now, at this very moment. I call into existence my goal so that it is effective immediately. Watch your thinking patterns and daily habits start to alter to fit your new way of being. 

 

Assignment #5

1. What are you creating for your life? Make a list of what achievements you are creating for your life. Begin each statement with, “I am _____” as to call it into existence now. Make each statement concise, bold, and write it in a way that you feel excitement and passion every time you read it. 

Week 6
Transformation: freedom from anxiety


Consider that the biggest obstacle standing in the way between ourselves and our goals is FEAR. Fear and anxiety can effect all of us at some point in our lives. It doesn't matter how successful, accomplished, or courageous we are, fear and anxiety can strike and blind us beyond belief. Even without the fear factor, people tend to set limits for themselves. Tack on fear to the formula, and it can stop us dead in our tracks. We allow fear to determine how much we will risk and limit the range in which we live. Understanding the unwarranted power and control of fear in our lives is the first step toward breaking the force.

First, I want you to understand that it is OKAY to feel fearful or anxious. Allow yourself to feel it rather than suppress it. Second, I want you to understand that everyone else has the same exact fears as you. Once you realize that we all have the same fears and anxieties, you begin to stop worrying and begin to feel less pressure. Once this pressure has been elevated, we now have a sense of freedom to perform at our highest capability. Energy that was once employed by fear is now freed up to focus on yourself and your goals.

 

Exercise #6

1. Perform the following exercise:

Step 1. Close your eyes

Step 2. Feel your greatest fear and anxiety

Step 3. Create the worse case scenario possible in your mind and feel the fear and anxiety at the highest level; heart racing, palms sweating….

Step 4. Now realize that all of the people in your life all have the same exact fear!

Week 7
B
eing courageous: Giving Up Fear As a Justification Not To Act


Courage is defined as mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

Have you ever been daunted by a task or project you had to complete? Perhaps it was a college presentation which left you marked with fear of public speaking, a nerving meeting with your boss to request a raise, or your last chance to court the object of your affection. Think about moments of opportunity that life has presented you in the past. How did you feel when you pursued the moment? Probably accomplished, ecstatic, alive, COURAGEOUS.  And how did you feel when you let the moment pass you by? Most likely defeated, weak, and spiritless. My goal is to get you to a point where you strive for these moments because you become addicted to this feeling of aliveness. Instead of waiting for these moments to come to you, you seek after them. Life regrets become a thing of the past.

How do we do this?

Like with anything, we begin at the stem: your train of thought. The issue most people have with these moments is they categorize the outcome in two boxes: “success” and “failure”. From now on, these labels do not exist anymore. Rather, we begin to view these moments as “life experiences” from which we learn, grow, and feel ALIVE. Once we correlate the seizing of opportunities with this feeling of aliveness, our brain begins to rewire itself. 

The way you view yourself, other people, and life situations can change dramatically. All it takes is mental self-control and awareness of your thoughts. Every time you begin to dwell on fear, you have to become aware. After you awareness is achieved, you have the power to redirect your thoughts and feelings. Think of what you desire for the outcome. Become aware of how these thoughts make you feel. Continue this process.

 

EXERCISE #7
PERFORM AN ACT OF COURAGE

  • Start small. Here’s some examples:
  • If you don’t like being in front of people, next time you’re at a group fitness class, for example, go to the very front of class.
  • If you don’t like talking to new people, next time you’re in line at Starbucks, for example, strike up a casual conversation with the person next to you.
  • If you’re uncomfortable expressing your feelings, next time you see your mother, for example, be the first to say you love her.

Just like with anything in life, being courageous takes practice. Taking baby steps to achieve the end-goal is OK. Start small. When you’re ready, take on bigger goals. Think of life as a game. Seeing how far you can push yourself. Seeing how many feelings you can experience in one moment. Surprise yourself. Surprise others. That’s what living is about.

Week 8
Being courageous: Taking action despite thoughts or feelings


It is incredibly easy to talk ourselves out of things. 

Let’s say you go to the same coffee shop every day on your lunch break. It just so happens your crush has also made the daily habit of getting a caffeine kick. You would give anything to say anything comprising an actual sentence to the object of your affection. However, it has happened and it’s been MONTHS!

Why does this happen?

You talk yourself out of it each and every time. Your inner dialogue goes something like this, “I didn’t wear my nice shirt today” or “I didn’t get much sleep last night- I’ll probably come off tired and boring” or <insert your inner dialogue here>.

Sound familiar?

We’re all guilty of it. We let our thoughts, feelings, emotions, habits, and lifestyle get in the way of what we really want. The emotions that follow are guilt, shame, self-doubt, and fear that we will never achieve our life’s most important goals.

However, we can break this vicious cycle. We luckily live in the golden age of neurologic research into how the brain functions, what drives us as human beings, and the power of habit.

My goal is to steer you away from this habit of inaction due to your pervasive inner dialogue. 

The Power of Habit Author, Charles Duhigg claims that 40%-45% of our daily decisions are based on habits. Duhigg explains that a habit is made of a (1) cue, (2) routine, and (3) reward. Cues are triggers that cause us to perform a behavior. Routine is the actual behavior itself. Our brain contains neurotransmitters that reward us following this behavior. 

So, how do we change our habits?

While many people focus on changing the routine to change a habit, the cue and the reward are what should be the focus. Premeditating the cues and rewards will allow us to prepare for the desired outcome.

Take the following example:

By premeditating on a specific cue (you see your crush in the coffee shop), and a specific reward (you visualize getting the number of aforementioned crush), you are able to mentally prepare and successfully follow through on your goal.

By becoming aware of the cues and visualizing the desired outcome, this will change the routine. By putting this into practice with all areas of your life, you have the power to change your daily habits and your life. 

 

EXERCISE #8
ELIMINATE DIALOGUE AND VISUALIZE OUTCOMES

  • Put your new knowledge of cues, routine, and rewards into practice:
  • Choose a goal, as in the above example of asking someone out on a date.
  • Become aware of the cue (your crush walks into the coffee shop).
  • Visualize the reward (you getting his or her number).
  • Put routine in place (you walking to him or her, starting a conversation, which ultimately leads to asking for his or her number).

Remember from last week’s article that outcomes should not be categorized into “success” or “failure”. Rather, focus on pushing yourself to become the person you want to be- courageous. The act of successfully completing your goal is a success in itself, no matter what the outcome is.