50 First Dates with Life

Hi, my name is Tom…

We classify things. It’s in our core nature. We also judge things. It’s in our core nature.

Satisfying or unsatisfying.

Balanced or unbalanced.

Safe or unsafe.

Yes or no.

Classification allows us to quickly and easily respond to opportunities as they arise in our environment, and the recall of classification status can be of great benefit.

…the last time I drank tequila I bruised my head so I won’t drink it because I expect I might do it again…

…the last time I ate at this restaurant I loved it so I expect I will enjoy it again…

…the last time I met this person they hurt me so I expect they’ll do it again…

Where problems arise is the generalization of classification status to all individual examples of the class, or if the classification inhibits the experience in the Moment by placing expectations on it from the past. Even if the classified object has been consistent in its classification every moment in the past, if you are truly living in the present Moment then you must allow opportunity for a adjustment in classification. You can be ready for what you expect to happen, you can be prepared for consistency, but your actions every moment need to allow for change. Need to be open for growth and acceptance. Need to hold hope.

Expectations are only meant for preparation not perpetuity.

…the last time I drank tequila I bruised my head. I will observe my consumption this time and see if I still need protect myself…

…the last time I ate at this restaurant I loved it. I will observe my consumption and see if I continue to love it…

…the last time I met this person they hurt me. I will observe my interaction and see if I still need to protect myself…

Our classifications and judgements are about keeping us safe and getting our needs met. They are information used to predict the potential of a situation to hurt us, help us, or hinder us, and we rely on a script built on the pattern card for the classification we’ve assigned to our past experiences. Yet, if our boundaries are sound and our faith solid, we can throw away those recipes for survival and instead trust our instinct for success and our universe to provide for our needs.

Every Moment should be a blank page ready to be written rather than a worn script being re-read. Each interaction should be an exploration of options rather than a rote recipe; even if the ingredients are the same, you can have different results by changing up the mixture.

In the case of the WWF players, classifying a Scammy Sammy involves a judgement of the patterns and characteristics typical of the fraud-minded users. Recent start date. Low average game score. Low average word score. Interchangeable first and last names. The fact they challenge in the first place. And most tellingly, the speedy chat attempt. Based on these ingredients, the classification as Scammy Sammy makes sense and engaging appropriate defense mechanisms is understandable.

Except…those same mechanisms should be in place for all interactions no matter the classification! The rule of no expectations, only boundaries applies at all times. If you are consistent in your boundaries then you are safe no matter if you’re in the lion’s den or the games room. Everyone you meet should be treated with the same respect, courtesy, curiosity and interest while maintaining healthy boundaries. Even Scammy Sammys are human beings behind the script and feel the barbs of judgemental contempt if levelled at them.

Accept the information your classifications give you, hear the options your emotional and judgemental minds feed you, but don’t act upon either until the Moment of choice is upon you and then act from compassion not from fear, because very rarely are you in true danger if you live inside solid boundaries.

If someone hurt you in the past, but are not hurting you in the present, then enlightenment demands you treat them according to the present Moment. If someone previously fit one of your class groupings but is not demonstrating those traits today, mindfulness demands you give the benefit of the doubt while maintaining your healthy boundaries. If someone you have never met before seems to be falling into one of the classifications, observe the interaction but reserve your judgement and give them the benefit of the doubt while maintaining your healthy boundaries until a moment of choice arises. If your boundaries are working properly, people’s behavior will not catch you off guard since you have no expectations!

Live it like Lucy.

Lucy wakes up each morning with no recall of recent events in the Adam Sandler romantic comedy 50 First Dates. A brain injury destroyed the connection between her short term and long term memory. Her core personality remains intact but she cannot consciously add new experiences to her life history. Once she falls asleep, which is when healthy brains compile the day’s adventures, her slate gets wiped clean.

She truly lives in the Moment. Not as profoundly as poor Tom who has a ten second recall, but she cannot consciously remember the days after her accident, good or bad.

Enter Henry, a man who lives for variety and challenge so cannot commit to relationships. Normally a girl like Lucy would never keep him, and would never fall for his ploys because she would catch on after one day. The next time she saw him, he would be classified as unable to meet her needs thus unsafe to engage with.

Yet those needs were based on the woman she was the day before. Her classification is based on historical data rather than the current situation. Her judgement is flawed because the woman she is does not now need protection from the man he is. Yesterday she may have told him he had one day to win her trust and then she’d be done with him.

Except now Henry always has one day. He gets to know Lucy inside and out, one day at a time, and learns how to be everything she could ever want while not being judged for who he is. His insecurities, his passions, his core self are not vulnerable in this relationship because any mistakes he makes are erased and he gets to start fresh the very next day. She doesn’t remember what happened the day before and he chooses only to remember the good parts.

Both are truly living in the Moment and both loving it. Lucy has no expectations of Henry, while he has none of her, yet both maintain their personal boundaries.

Until Lucy starts leaving herself notes. Judging Henry’s satisfaction with the relationship based on her values and experiences. She stops living in the Moment and relies on her thoughts and feelings about the contents of her journal, ultimately breaking up with Henry. Her conscious attention to her classification of the relationship as unfair to Henry thus inconsistent with her core values ignored the sincere joy both she and Henry felt. She felt like a burden on him and her family and admitted herself into a residential facility. There she figured she’d forget about Henry.

She was wrong.

Although her thinking mind and her feeling brain could not recognize the person in front of her or put a name to his face, her wise mind knew that face and missed the bond between them which was deeper than the events of each moment.

When we truly let go of the past, or at least the emotions associated with it if not the information collected from it, then we can start each morning with a clean slate and let those around us be free of judgement and classification while still keeping ourselves balanced and satisfied.

With our eyes wide open and full of acceptance and curiosity, we see only what we need to see.

Trojan Horses and Gordian Knots

No strings attached?

Look that gift horse in the mouth and examine every strand of hair in its mane and tail looking for threads which may inextricably bind you before accepting unsolicited gifts. Or unsolicited acts of service, for that matter.

Generosity is an aspect of sincere compassion but like all behaviours can be used for control. Extricating yourself from negative billing on an uninvited gift or service can be incredibly tricky. Have you ever sat on the phone navigating the layers of red tape required to cancel that free trial you signed up for on a whim…and you knew what you were getting into there!

Providing unexpected gifts or services is a common behaviour in those struggling to reach emotional stability. It is a way to secure connection without a risk of personal rejection – our society tells us it is churlish to turn away someone bearing gifts or who does nice things for us…until the moment where the words ” After all I’ve done for you…” come to haunt you.

There is no shame or dysfunction in choosing to involve yourself with someone who engages in dysfunctional behaviour if you do so with conscious compassion and joyful intent. Just like accepting an offer of a free trial book of the month club gives you a chance to see if you like what you get, if it meets your needs.

A gift horse does have value even if long in the tooth. A Trojan army can only overrun your boundaries if you are unprepared or weakened. Every interaction, unsolicited or not, with another human being is a bid for contact, an attempt to get a need met, an effort to find stability. Greeted with receptive curiosity, these threads of connection can weave beautiful patterns not possible without the tension created by the variance in personalities.

Understanding yourself and your needs and motivations will allow you to examine the details of Trojan horses to determine if acceptance is worth the cost. Awareness of your strengths and defenses will provide you with certainty as you decide to allow entry or reject the offering presented to you.

Knowledge of the patterns and personality of the gift giver will inform your decision; don’t trust anyone but love them anyway by having hopeful assumptions. Trust Synergy to keep you satisfied and in balance as you endeavor to meet your needs while being of service to others.

Even if they seem to be trying to pay you in advance.

That behaviour, being generous, is sincere, as is the motive, getting needs met. What makes the interaction insincere and thus unsatisfying is the lack of clear expectations. Perhaps because of a history of rejection and manipulation, they feel they must use passive means to meet their needs. Maybe they’ve experienced helplessness or hopelessness and are attempting to cultivate relationships in advance so when they need support they already have a line of credit with you.

With all unsolicited bids for contact, especially those involving gifts or acts of service, you are able to make an intentional and deliberate choice to accept the gift and its possible knot of hidden obligations, or choose to block access to your energy by turning the gift away at the door. Feel no shame or guilt in saying no because your boundaries still apply even in the face of apparent acts of generosity. Since Synergy gifts us with what we need each day, we are programmed to receive and resistance goes against our very nature!

You will feel the Moment a truly compassionate gift or act is bestowed upon you, and anything less than that sensation will have some degree of transaction involved, some measure of score keeping. When in the Presence of sincere compassion, the taste of satisfaction and gratitude will be unmistakable and you will feel compelled to accept out of sheer joy.

Money in the Now

Cash rarely has Presence in the Moment

Because a Moment is rooted in our Wise mind, which is not grounded in the physical world, rarely does money have relevance. Money is a tool to be used in the quest for satisfaction, and it of course offers leverage when prying open puzzle segments in the escape room which is your life, but it does not meet your needs in and of itself.

Except the sensations of security, power and control.

Those are actually sources of imbalance because if you surrender to the moment you are living in total insecurity. You dwell in Schrodinger’s Box where all possibilities exist simultaneously until the Moment of choice comes where you have a chance to commit to one option. You relinquish control to the universe and allow its power to course through you as it will rather than attempting to bend it to your will or resist it.

Money is not something you need. It is a resource to be used at the right time. Were you to receive five million dollars right this instant in your bank account, it would require action on your part to convert that financial windfall from digital delight into satisfaction.

Think about it.

What would it translate into? And how long would it take to bring actual change in your level of satisfaction and contentment? Paying off your mortgage doesn’t change your home and the only time you really need that money is the day the bill is due. Otherwise, a need for money is a feeling, and feelings are not facts! So, paying off a mortgage only affects the Moment of payment, which is one or two days per month. If today is not that day, then thinking about your mortgage or rent means you are not living in the present.

Need a car? Is that what you would do with the funds?

Why?

If you need need to get to work, THAT is your need, not the car. Truly understanding what the problem is – getting to work – as compared to obstacles – lack of a car – will open your eyes to opportunities for meeting your need that get overlooked because you are only seeing obstacles. You focus on getting the money to buy the car and lose the opportunity to connect with your interesting neighbour who works on the same street you do and would love your company on the drive to work.

Visualize how you would spend every last dime of an unlimited bank account. And then examine the underlying need behind each purchase. Understand yourself better.

And realize that it is not lack of money preventing needs from being met. Everything you need will always be available to you in the Moment you truly require a specific resource.

Today, right this instant, what need is not being met? Our basic need for food and shelter is actually subservient to the need for psychological safety.

Emotional homelessness, the sensation where it is more comfortable to be without an address or a family or contacts, can happen even amongst those with copious funds in the bank. Freedom from the perceived injustice of social expectations can drive someone from the comforts of home into apparent privation but the safety of the mind overrides the safety of the body. An extreme example of living in the Moment, where feelings of imbalance turn a life upside down yet the person living it feels more stable in the uncertainty of the street than the certainty of a unsatisfying life

The universe gives us what we truly need but we tend to get wrapped up in or distracted by what our emotional and judgemental minds tell us we want.

We may feel like we want money and think that we need it but we know we don’t.

Behaviour Blame Shifting

An exit strategy

Receiving a no, with or without explanation, can lead to a battle of wills as the person seeking to meet a need attempts to obtain it from someone who is not offering to do so.

Leave judgement behind and forget about wrong and right. In the Moment, there is no such thing. There is only need and satisfaction. This is how the defense of temporary insanity arises, when the emotional monster overwhelms a wise mind for a moment and seizes control attempting to overcome an obstacle in the way of an unmet need. Needs are valid, but forcing someone to meet them against their will is not.

When you remove the lense of judgement from evaluating behaviour, and accept that unmet needs are the driving force regardless of your personal opinion on the veracity of the need, then you will be better able resist attempts to dominate your will since emotionality and judgement are not part of the operations of a wise mind.

But resistance is necessary when your boundaries are at stake, and understanding your needs and boundaries gives stability to your defenses.

Some people will try to smash those walls, breaking themselves in the process. They may go to great lengths, driven by uncontrolled thoughts and emotions, to bend you to their objective. They may become someone they don’t even recognize in their efforts to make you into what they need.

And then they’ll blame you.

Upon reflection, in a convoluted way it is your fault. You did not follow the script in their head and they responded to your failure to meet their need. Your boundaries drove them to greater heights attempting to scale them. If you hadn’t been so strong in the face of their desperate need, they would never have gone to such lengths to win you.

Understanding this rationale will allow you to recognize how and why blame shifting happens thus letting you accept it without defending yourself, justifying your boundaries, or arguing how you actually did nothing wrong!

What you did was watch as a scaffold was constructed right outside your door. You listened as the rope was strung. And you waited as they mounted the blocks telling you you’d put the hangman’s noose outside your boundaries. Telling you if you don’t let them in they are going to die. Telling you they are in distress and only you can fix it. You didn’t stop them from building their own downfall. Because you held your boundaries, you were to blame for letting them hang themselves. Using Fear, Obligation, Guilt, and shame they shroud the scaffold in a FOG smokescreen and convince you it doesn’t exist and your walls are to blame for their distress.

We are not truly responsible for the actions, thoughts or feelings of another and our own past emotions have no relevance to the presence. We are not obliged to stop them burning their own bridges or jumping under busses. We do not need to surrender to their needs any more than they are required to meet our expectations.

Back to our WWF friends. They have a need. It is to earn money. They are exploiting an opportunity to connect with potentially vulnerable targets, in an effort to redistribute wealth. The need is real but the ends do not justify the means. In fact, were these Scammy Sammys given the opportunity to put their energy toward a legitimate enterprise, their obvious wits and flexibility would make them incredibly successful. Leaving judgement aside and meeting them with curiosity, you develop compassion for the situation they are in while also recognizing it is not ok to take advantage of people.

And they are aware. They know exactly what they are doing and take pride in a job well done until they feel judged or ashamed. Although we often hide the truth from ourselves, we all know what we are doing. We all make choices. We all have moments of clarity where we sit inside our wise mind and hate what our monsters have made us do. Then we either embrace change…

Or we shift that hate onto the person who made us look in the mirror.

“Look what you made me do.”

Relevance

What matters right now in the escape room which is your life?

There are countless things to think about. Yesterday’s events. Tomorrow’s promise. Where you are. Where you’ve been. Where you’re going. Where society’s been. Where it’s going. All very important.

But are they relevant?

Do you need to consider these things right now, in this moment? Does the identity of the person who keeps stealing your lunch from your work fridge matter on Saturday afternoon? Will pondering the global economy make a difference in your spending habits today?

Filtering important thoughts from necessary ones protects and focuses your energy and grounds you in the present. Putting topics on the back burner is not dismissing them; in fact the most delicious scents emerge from simmering pots and you know they’re ready to be enjoyed when the smell gets so tantalizing you can’t resist opening them up.

We have all we need in front of us each day. But we are bombarded with stimulation from the larger world. Whether our street, our municipality, our region, our country or our planet, very few of us actually have an impact at any given moment. If we dedicate our time and energy on finding solutions in our very own limited present, ideas for the future will percolate through our wonderful mind all on their own.

That is what acceptance does. Resistance is futile.

When you accept everything – including the worrisome, the painful, the toxic – then you stop worrying, you stop feeling pain, and you stop acting toxic. Our world is what it is today. It was something else yesterday. It will be something different tomorrow. You can make a difference only by living in the Moment and taking action that is available right here, right now.

In taking action to meet our own needs we ensure we have the strength and stability to meet the needs of others. Place your own oxygen mask before assisting others with their survival lest you suffocate while saving them.

You can be an anchor thread which changes the global picture but only by whittling away distracting thoughts and irrelevant feelings to leave behind a clear perspective on what is possible in this Moment.

Clear Expectations

They bridge the space between.

Being of service requires truly understanding how to be of service. Asking someone directly is an effective and straightforward way of determining if what you have to offer is indeed what is wanted or needed. Clarifying expectations and setting boundaries is a necessary part of being of service yet is often inhibited by our discomfort in asking for expectations and articulation of boundaries. Without these invaluable guidelines one or both parties get disappointed, exploited, or otherwise dissatisfied. The space between gets clouded and murky and connection becomes strained.

On the boundaries side, it starts with the offering. The more information you provide about what you are willing to give, the less chance of misunderstanding. But you must balance this with the fact information gives power and power gives control.

If you are actively offering a good or service then providing extensive details in your description saves you and your prospective customers time and energy. You don’t have to field the same question dozens of times while they don’t waste their time asking. If you really want to sell, you voluntarily share all the details. Doing so generates an intimacy which simulates trust, which is exactly why the WWF Sammy Scammys overshare! In these days of digital fraud surrounding marketplace advertisements you as a seller must be alert to scamsters too and the lack of details provided in their queries will often be the first clue to the insincere purchaser. Of course, reading an invalid URL as in the example below will also reveal a scam attempt.

On the recipient’s side, articulating expectations ensures that you are going to be satisfied with what you obtain from the transaction. Make no mistake, every single interaction with another human being is a transaction in one way or another. Except in the case of acts of true compassion, where nothing is expected in return.

It’s the currency and the outcome which determine if it feels mercenary or rewarding or simply a daily task. Pretending that our interactions are not transactions does not change that reality and in fact creates the phenomenon of generalized dissatisfaction in society. Many people experience a nebulous discomfort as they go about their day, a sense of being unfulfilled and cheated yet they can’t put their finger on it. Because we feel guilty saying no, we feel uncomfortable denying someone when they express a need but also because of the legitimate confusion which exists within the ambiguity of social interactions. Our WWF Scammy Sammys consistently exploit the very name of the program, insisting that since you accepted a game and chat, you are their friend and must meet all the responsibilities and obligations inherent in THEIR definition of friendship even if you did not actively agree to a working definition of friendship.

Intentional business transactions drive global finance. Personal transactions drive global society yet we do not give intentionality to most of our human interactions. Even acts of compassion are only effective if the need is understood. Without intentionality, we don’t get what we really want nor give what we truly meant to.

Sincere and intentional communication can not only be used as protection against exploitation by controlling data mining but also ensures interpersonal transactions remain satisfying while even becoming a delight in and of itself.

Saying what you want is satisfying. Indicating what you are willing to offer is comforting. Avoiding either can be a sign of a power play but assuming the best is what Synergy wants us to do as we seek to meet our needs.

Contempt, Compassion, and Empathy

Empathy really is a buzz word nowadays. It’s held up by many as the standard of excellence in emotional functioning and the antidote to contempt. Empathy is seen as a higher level of awareness and the solution to social ills. But there is a problem with this ideal.

Empathy is feeling someone else’s emotions as if they are your own. Although on the surface this would seem a noble and compassionate thing, especially when held up in contrast of contempt which is judgement of someone else’s emotions, to feel someone’s emotions is…well…immature, selfish and in fact a form of contempt!

This is not to say understanding someone’s feelings is inappropriate, not in the least. That is the root of compassion, which is a healthy respect for and awareness of the emotions of others.

But in its truest form, empathy is an example of someone with poor boundaries who is unable to distinguish between themselves and others thus feels a strong need to fix the problems for others in order to find peace themselves. Many empaths talk of being overwhelmed and taken advantage of, which is a way of blaming others for their failure to protect themselves by establishing healthy boundaries. To act to change someone else’s circumstances can often be a form of contempt because the message is you know better then they, the victims, do.

Contempt and callous disregard for the feelings of others is an easy target to disparage and the narcissist easy to blame for society’s ills. The person exhibiting contempt is demonstrating rigid boundaries with complete distinction between themselves and others, which is viewed as toxic and dysfunctional. True, there is an imbalance present in this way of coping and to reach authenticity and enlightenment a shift needs to happen away from a focus on the judgemental coping mechanisms into wise and compassionate processes. Yet empathy is not the answer either.

The empath is also often toxic and dysfunctional yet in a way deemed acceptable to society because the appearance of helpfulness and caring, yet the drive is just as internally motivated as the actions of the narcissist. There is an imbalance present here, too, and a shift away from the emotional coping mechanisms into wise and compassionate processes needs to happen.

Compassion does not mean your are suffering with the people you feel compassionate towards. They are not you and you are not them, their emotions are not yours to feel. But compassion does elicit discomfort when imbalance, injustice, or negativity is witnessed. Compassion involves the desire to see balance restored, in whatever form the victim might feel it needs to take. As soon as you decide what form restitution or balance must take, you are no longer being compassionate, you are being contemptuous. To demand anything on anyone’s behalf except your very own, is to show contempt of that person’s or groups’ ability to determine their own needs. And unless they asked for your help, you disempower them by taking up their cause unless you yourself are directly affected by the imbalance.

Don’t mistake activism for compassion and empathy for support. Those without voices do need to be heard, but unless you are one of the voiceless, your sounds will drown out the meaning of their silence. Speaking from a place of experience is the only way to drive change, and listening from a place of compassion if you are not the victim, is the only way to support change.

Schrodinging Everything

Hedge your bets and prepare for all eventualities with the hopes that things will come out hopping when Synergy finally presents the opportunity to open the darn box.

Greeting every day with curiosity, hope and acceptance means being ready for anything in any Moment. Being receptive to whatever springs up on you means you’ll never be disappointed with the chances you didn’t take, the opportunities you didn’t seize or the Moments you missed.

Assume all possibilities are open to you until the moment you know the truth.

This includes options you may perceive as negative. Don’t rule out failure or hurdles…in fact, count on them thus they won’t devastate you. Have Plan A, Plan B, in fact prepare the entire alphabet just in case. The more you understand the parameters and possible outcomes for every decision you face, the stronger your position for satisfaction in a perhaps unexpected form.

We don’t know what is best for ourselves. We don’t know what we need. We often don’t know who we even are, so how can we be certain what is in our best interests?

Synergy knows. But it’s up to us to accept her wisdom and be receptive to her gentle guidance. We blind ourselves with our thoughts and feelings, setting our hearts on things that were never meant to be, because we are trapped in our past or dreaming of our future.

Obstacles, barriers and disappointments are merely rungs on the ladder ascending toward enlightenment and true understanding of self, others, and the universe. Our purpose is to discover our purpose, which can’t be chosen, can’t be predicted, only unveiled.

Every decision has a Moment for making it. Not talking about it. Not planning it. Not dreaming about it. Those are not decisions, those are efforts. Until the Moment of Truth, efforts encompassing all possible outcomes yield the best return on Synergy’s investment in us. So, Schrodinger’s cat is both alive and dead, treat it as such until time to open the box!