There’s Nothing Wrong with You

There’s Nothing Wrong with You

I could feel the distance between where I was and where I wanted to be.

This was always obvious to me. But apparently not as obvious to my friends, whose patience was running thin.

I would express my challenges as they arose. Because I thought that would be the best way to process and overcome them.

Clearly, my friends didn’t agree. They were done trying to encourage me. They were also done being my friends.

Where Should Personal Development Begin?

For me, personal development began with Dr. Robert Anthony’s The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence (affiliate link).

And I honestly could not have asked for a better place to start. Even though I basically just picked it off the shelf at the bookstore because it looked interesting.

One of the key things I still remember from this book (which I’ve read twice), is Dr. Anthony suggestion that we are all doing our best at any given moment. It is only possible to do better by raising our consciousness.

I believe this is where every personal development journey should begin. It should begin with the acknowledgement that there’s nothing wrong with you and you are already doing your best based at your current level of awareness.

There’s nothing wrong with you and you are already doing your best based at your current level of awareness. Click To Tweet

If we start with the premise that there’s something wrong with us, inevitably, we will feel miserable. And instead of improving, we will follow a trail of misery to deeper misery.

Gustavo Razzetti speaks eloquently on this topic, explaining why personal development can make you feel miserable, something I will elaborate on throughout this post.

But I Didn’t Know That

So, when I first started getting into personal development, I consumed everything I could get my hands on, be it Steve Pavlina, Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, or otherwise.

And much of it was helpful.

But somewhere along the line, I succumbed to many of the traps Razzetti describes – pursuing unrealistic expectations, getting stuck in what’s wrong, comparing myself to others, and more. Alienating friends and family can be another downside.

My friends, in fact, told me that engaging in self-improvement wasn’t helping and that I should give up on it altogether.

Even at the time, I probably would have described what I was experiencing as “growing pains”, and I knew I would eventually find myself on the other side of it.

Apparently, it wasn’t happening fast enough for my friends, who ended up leaving me. So, I went to see a psychologist, who equated the pain I was experiencing with a breakup.

It was challenging. Because I hadn’t just lost friends. I had lost my band, too.

My Efforts Started Paying off

Following these events, I floated aimlessly for a year or two.

There was no way of knowing at the time, but because of the financial crisis of 2008, I was starting to go through a financial crunch, too. And that gave me a sense of purpose and urgency I had never had before.

Those were difficult times, but the work I had put into self-improvement started paying off in droves. Because in 2011 I went from having a rather disastrous year to finding a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Things started turning around in just six months.

I joined two network marketing companies. I invested in a music industry tech startup. And I began creating new connections and finding opportunities for myself. Some of that worked out and paved the way for where I am today, though much of it didn’t work out.

Either way, I am richer in experience for it.

I don’t like the idea that I was putting all this time and effort into self-improvement merely to be prepared for what was to come, but in a way, that’s exactly what ended up happening.

Was I Crazy For Engaging in Self-Improvement?

No, I don’t think I was crazy for doing what I did.

Yes, personal development did end up digging up underlying challenges and emotions. It did set me up for unrealistic expectations, getting stuck in what’s wrong, and the comparison game too. I even alienated many friends and family members.

Which probably had something to do with the choices I had made – including getting into two network marketing companies around the same time – something virtually no one in the industry advises.

That certainly doesn’t mean you can’t come out on the other side better off. There’s a great deal you can learn from holding up a mirror to yourself.

There is value in challenge. I like what Ralph Martson had to say:

The value of achievement is in the achieving, in the overcoming of the challenges, in the person you become as a result of going through the process. To have the reward without the effort is to have no reward at all, nothing but an empty and meaningless token.

Start with You – You Are the Only Thing You Can Improve

Self-improvement is holding up a mirror to yourself.

But if all you see are flaws and shortcomings, then you are ranking yourself unfavorably. And if all you see are your positive qualities and strengths, you are deluded.

So, while self-improvement can lead us down some dark paths, we must begin to act as the filter to the information we’re consuming. Because we can easily buy into everything that’s being said without thought or further examination.

It’s the reason so many people buy into gurus who get you on their webinar, sell you their course, and follow up with endless upsells (because you didn’t get the secret the first time around).

By the time people have realized they’re being scammed, they already have too much of themselves invested in the program to back out.

True self-improvement is marked by a deeper evaluation of what’s true and right for ourselves, where we can honestly see ourselves going, what we can see ourselves accomplishing, how we can become a better version of ourselves and not a better version of someone else – including our teachers.

The only comparison that’s worth making is who you are now to who you used to be (but please don’t compare how you look now to how you looked in the past – that isn’t fair to yourself).

Not Giving a F*ck

Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (affiliate link) tackles the issue of misery in personal development head on and it’s one of the best books I read in 2019.

Manson argues that we tend to focus inordinately on the extraordinary, assuming that one day we will be like the extraordinary. When it’s probably less that 10% of the world. I argue that it’s probably closer to 2% of the 2%.

But what’s wrong with that? Knowing your place in the world allows for honest self-assessment. It liberates you from the need to be the 2% of the 2%.

And if you think you know everything, then there is nothing to learn or to be curious about. No point in engaging in self-improvement. And Manson says being curios is the main thing we should aspire to, so that we can keep learning.

Ironically, Manson’s book isn’t anti-personal development at all. It’s a personal development book that helps you understand, first and foremost, that nothing is wrong with you.

When you understand, not just at a head level but also at a heart level, that nothing is wrong with you, you will give yourself permission to celebrate even seemingly insignificant victories. And you should.

Final Thoughts

Neel Raman says:

One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is to focus on our personal development.

I agree. But it must be done consciously. And that is also at the foundation of self-improvement as I understand it – making conscious choices. That was a breakthrough concept for me, because up until the day I was 25, I basically believed that life is whatever happened to you!

If you find yourself going down misery lane, it could just be growing pains. But it could also be unrealistic expectations, getting stuck in what’s wrong, or comparing yourself unfavorably to others.

Don’t compare someone’s highlight reels to your bloopers.

Don’t compare someone’s highlight reels to your bloopers. Click To Tweet

If you’re going to improve you, work on you. Let go of whatever you cannot control, including what others might think.

There is nothing wrong with you. But if self-improvement interests you, it’s because you desire more out of life. And it’s perfectly normal to desire more.

Assuming you set your sights on what’s obtainable, you can embark on a journey, enjoy the adventure, and get to your destination in good time.

But I promise you the meat of it is the journey itself, and if there is no joy in the journey, it’s just a means to an end.

If there is no joy in the journey, it’s just a means to an end. Click To Tweet

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Meditation – What Works for Me

Meditation – What Works for Me

I could feel my heart wake up. And it had a message for me. Something I always knew deep down but hadn’t been present to for years – probably since I was a child.

I spent the rest of the day in a state of bliss and love. My mind was present, but so was my heart. And I never knew that was possible.

Meditation had brought this moment to me. And I knew it could bring more.

How I Used to Think About Meditation

I used to think there were only two things you could accomplish with meditation:

  1. Come away feeling refreshed
  2. Get an answer to a question

When I sought to feel refreshed, although I’d often feel a bit better after 10 to 20 minutes of meditation, I would often be disappointed that it did not seem to work as a cure-all for exhaustion and tiredness. It was worth the effort, but the results were not phenomenal in my eyes.

And so far as getting answers was concerned, this often happened involuntarily, kind of like how when you go for a walk or a drive or a shower after a long day of work and suddenly new ideas come to you.

As you can tell from my attitude towards meditation at the time, I often had an on again off again relationship with it.

How I Was Introduced to Meditation

Meditation came into my awareness after I experienced an anxiety attack in 2008.

I started reading everything I could find on anxiety, and that’s when I came across meditation.

At the time, it probably would not have amounted to more than a to-do item. In the long list of things to do and not to do in coping with anxiety, meditation was just one item.

But the long-term benefits were there, and they seemed to stack over weeks and months.

How I Used to Meditate

As I was recovering from anxiety, I used to sit down, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing.

Anxious thoughts would sometimes interrupt, causing me to twitch or open my eyes momentarily, but I would give myself grace for “not doing it perfectly,” close my eyes, and start over. I was also assured that this was a normal part of the process.

Eventually, I figured out that you could meditate while listening to calming music, and that became my preferred way.

What I’ve Been Coming to Discover About Meditation

I’ve made many personal discoveries about meditation in the last year, all of which came through talking with others and finding new resources online.

Some of this is going to sound woo-woo, weird, or out there for some. Fair warning.

Energy Centers

First, I began to learn more about chakras. Now, that term alone is controversial and depending on your religious or spiritual leanings, it’s going to prove impossible to accept.

What I can say is this – science is now catching up with what we have long known about the seven energy centers that run along our spine. And perhaps that term (energy centers) is a little easier to digest, even for those who experience some discomfort near it.

To bottom line it, I discovered that it’s possible to awaken and energize these energy centers through meditation. And much of energy healing work (like Reiki) also revolves around energy centers.

Spirit Animals

One of my friends brought up spirit animals in conversation, and while I’d heard the term before, I didn’t know much about it. I still don’t.

But intuitively I recognized that there were probably spirit animal meditations out there, and sure I enough, I found some on YouTube.

Using the guided meditation, I discovered that my spirit animal was a panther.

Meditation is a Catch-All Term for Something That Has Many Branches to it

Author, entrepreneur, and musician Andy Seth was on episode 200 of my podcast. He shared that meditation is a very general umbrella term, as there are many types of meditation.

He shared that asking someone whether they meditate is a lot like asking them whether they play sports. You’d need to drill down a little further to get a sense of what type of athlete they are.

“Oh, you’re a soccer player? What position do you play?”

You’d need to get at least that specific to know what type of meditation they’re engaged in.

I did not know any of this as I was getting started in meditation. But over time I learned about transcendental meditation, Kundalini meditation, Zen meditation, mindfulness meditation, and so on. And I honestly thought there were just a few different types.

But the truth of the matter is some of the meditations just mentioned are subcategories, while others are parent categories. And there are many more besides.

Yeah. It gets confusing if you let it.

Heart-Brain Coherence Can be Achieved Through Meditation

Earlier this year, I came across Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work, and that’s where things started to get especially interesting to me.

Dr. Dispenza’s studies and discoveries on meditation go deep. Not surprising since he’s dedicated his life to understanding it.

Many of his findings are compelling. The one that I somewhat took for granted, and didn’t entirely understand when presented with it, was that you can achieve heart-brain coherence through meditation.

When this state is achieved, you will experience life in an entirely new way. Because you will become more present to your purpose and reason for being here.

Many of Dr. Dipsenza’s guided meditations can be found on YouTube, and they are my go-to.

Sitting with Yourself Dissolves Emotional Pain

This year, one open door quickly opened to another. After I engaged in Dr. Dispenza’s content for a while, I came to discover Kyle Cease, whose work is also fascinating to say the least. Especially since he’s a comedian turned transformational comedian.

Cease does not advocate any type of meditation specifically. But he talks a lot about sitting with yourself and its benefits.

He shared that through the process of meditation, things arise within us – painful emotions, anxious thoughts, and so on. But they arise to be dissolved, and if we can sit with them, acknowledge them, and even love them, they will release.

What Works for Me

So, depending on your intent, what you’re looking to achieve, and what works best for you, there are many types of meditation you can engage in.

But at least for me, there is no right or wrong way. Only what works for you.

Because I’ve been asked before if meditation is about silencing the mind. And surely there are gurus or monks that will tell you that this is the case.

I’ve never thought of it that way, and it’s not the way I’ve been taught to meditate.

So, here’s an overview of what works for me:

  • Go into a quiet room
  • Put on some relaxing meditation music or a guided meditation
  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position – these days, typically, I will meditate lying down
  • Close your eyes
  • Focus on breathing in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth
  • Thoughts and feelings will arise – there is nothing to fix, and most things only arise to be released
  • Do not add resistance to emotions or thoughts – just be present with them
  • Distractions and noises are common – these are also perfect, so do not add resistance to them
  • Stay with the meditation until the music ends or the guide asks you to open your eyes (I like my meditations to be at least 20 minutes, but at longest I have gone for 85 minutes)

It’s as simple as that!

And the benefits of meditation are far beyond what you might expect, with most articles on the topic extending well beyond 2,000 words in length. There’s even an article discussing 76 benefits of meditation!

“Meditation Feels Like a Waste of Time”

This is where things get even more interesting.

Because you might assume that spending so much time in meditation would be a waste. But there’s got to be a reason why gurus, monks, entrepreneurs, and those acquainted with ancient medicine and healing modalities spend so much time in meditation, right?

Think of all the things you would be doing otherwise. Most of them fall under the category of addiction:

  • Surfing the web
  • Social media
  • Watching TV
  • Netflix or YouTube
  • Video games

Meditation is one of the best things you can do for yourself because it allows you to remove yourself from addiction cycles. Further, it creates flow in your life.

Because if we were honest with ourselves, we’d see that most of our thoughts and goals and ambitions are trying to lead us upstream on the river of life, where we’ve already been. The things we desire to experience are all downstream.

When we go to sleep, we create flow. When we meditate, we create flow. When we focus on our heart and our personal development, we create flow.

When we get out of balance, work too hard, spend too much time in our addictions, and so on, we create resistance, and the universe has no choice but to restore balance and order. Which is why shrinking at the first sign of difficulty or challenge has a way of sending us back to square one in the game of achievement.

Shrinking at the first sign of difficulty or challenge has a way of sending us back to square one in the game of achievement. Click To Tweet

It’s counter-intuitive, to be sure. But meditation is often one of the best things we can do for ourselves.

Final Thoughts

Again, I understand that there will be those who say meditation is to be done a certain way, and anything outside of their instructions is not meditation.

That’s fine. That’s perfect to me.

Because they’ve gotten what they’ve gotten, and I’ve gotten what I’ve gotten. And you will get what you get.

If one method doesn’t work for you, though, recognize that there are many ways of meditating. And understanding the benefits and experiencing them for yourself will help you create a habit long term.

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Put it in Your Calendar

Put it in Your Calendar

It’s goofy.

I spent years earning my personal freedom. And it happened in stages, not in a vacuum.

I first got a sense of what was available in 2011. And by that, I mean I started to see the possibility for being able to do life on my own terms. I also knew that doing so would require a strong financial footing and multiple income streams.

But at first, I couldn’t decide what to focus on. In the next year or two, I joined two network marketing companies. I started multiple niche websites. I even invested in a music industry tech startup.

This ultimately wasn’t sustainable, and long story long, I began 2015 with no more than $700 in my bank account.

In fall 2014, though, I started picking up the work I had previously said “no” to – so, before I knew it, I was doing content work at home, engaging in community work, teaching guitar at night, and working as a casual theater tech at the university in the cracks.

Some onlookers called this “organized chaos” and that wasn’t too far from the truth.

In summer 2016, because of the effort I’d put in, I was able to start working entirely from home. Content work was getting especially lucrative. I kept engaging in community work, however, because I was passionate about it. I was also able to get back into music in a meaningful way.

In many ways, however, my life didn’t begin until last year. In 2019, I completed a series of personal development courses that finally left me feeling free and autonomous. And while there were some big challenges in 2019, it ultimately led me to the point of choosing the nomadic life as I had earned my location independence.

Which meant that I had about five months to travel. Because pandemic lockdowns took effect in March.

So, here’s the “goofy” part about all this.

I worked my way to freedom because it was something I desired. I did it because I didn’t want my calendar to rule my life.

The world went into lockdown while I was visiting Calgary, AB (instead of Abbotsford, BC, where I’m currently positioned). And people kept asking me when I was leaving for Abbotsford. Of course, the authorities recommended against any travel for quite a while.

And I shared with others that I had created freedom for myself so that I wouldn’t need to make such decisions. I could pick up and go when I wanted to.

But some people don’t like suspense. Which taught me that it’s always good to let them know when you’re coming or going.

Well, here we are a little over a year later. And my life hasn’t been ruled by my calendar.

The difference now is, after a year of “freedom,” I’ve realized it’s important to have things to look forward to. Otherwise, every day is Groundhog Day, especially here in quarantine.

It's important to have things to look forward to. Click To Tweet

Not that there are as many things I can put into my calendar right now. But I can take webinars and courses. I can make phone calls. I can make coaching calls more affordable for my leads and prospects.

I can begin putting events in my calendar again.

My mentors always said:

Discipline is true freedom.

Discipline is true freedom. Click To Tweet

I guess they were right after all.

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In Japan, there are two types of New Year parties.

One is Shinnenkai and the other Bonenkai.

Shinnenakai literally means “new year gathering.”

Meanwhile, Bonenkai is made up of three kanji characters meaning “forget,” “year,” and “gathering.”

Both types of parties generally revolve around drinking.

But where a Shinnenkai might be celebratory in atmosphere, a Bonenkai would not be.

Because the purpose of a Bonenaki is to forget the troubles and woes of the year past to look forward to what will hopefully be a better year.

I don’t know if there will be any parties in Japan as we approach the final month of the year.

But if there are, I bet most of them will be Bonenkais. Because that’s how most of us feel about 2020.

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The Forgotten Art of Research

The Forgotten Art of Research

It occurs to me that most of us haven’t the faintest clue of how to research. And it’s become increasingly problematic in these strange times where many reports are vastly exaggerated and even fabricated.

For many, research consists of turning on the TV and watching the news.

But we’ve got to remember what TV was made for – for entertainment. Otherwise, programs would not be punctuated by commercials, which are cleverly placed to feed our consumerism.

And rarely if ever are programs – even so-called “serious” programs – not punctuated by commercials. I’ve only seen it once.

A book does not interrupt you to sell a product. And even if it does, you’re welcome to skip over the pitch.

“Because I saw it on TV” is about the weakest argument you can make for knowing something. It’s like saying you opened the fist page of a book once, and now you know all its contents. That’s not research.

“Because I saw it on TV” is about the weakest argument you can make for knowing something. Click To Tweet

TV does not exist to educate you. You may learn a thing or two watching, to be sure, but not the deeper truths lurking beneath.

Research is about taking responsibility for yourself. Letting go of learned helplessness. Acknowledging that your life and your freedoms matter to you.

If we do not question anything and instead agree with everything, then aren’t we just mindless drones carrying out the orders of authority?

It’s easy to succumb to laziness. I know that all too well, and I’m not immune to YouTube or Netflix binges.

But I can honestly say I have put hundreds of hours into researching topics that matter to me, including current events. Revisiting everything I thought I “knew.” All the things I was taught as a child. And often coming away with a different perspective than I started with. Because it’s inevitable when you uncover the truth.

That’s the mark of true research – when your perspective changes. Because you saw reason to challenge the oversimplified, never verified, incomplete answers you were given as a child. Rather than living in an echo chamber that reinforces what you think you already know.

You couldn’t have been given all the answers as you were going through school. It’s impossible. No one would impose such a gruesome, R rated world on impressionable children (though we still subject them to a lot). They were given the G or PG rated version of history.

We were given the G or PG rated version of history.

If you come away from school satisfied that you know the facts, then you have not engaged in research at all. Because everything was presented to get something specific across.

“I don’t understand the point of history or social studies,” said many a student, including some of my friends.

Don’t you get it? You were given a narrative to follow. Because someone served to benefit from it.

And when I say “benefit,” don’t jump to profit or malicious intent. We all do things because we stand to benefit from them. Even when we do things that benefit others, we still stand to benefit from the feeling of having done good.

How silly and foolish to think we could outgive the divine. It’s impossible. We will go through this life having taken more than we gave, no matter how much we gave.

How silly and foolish to think we could outgive the divine. Click To Tweet

You can trust the narrative if you wish. But make it a well-researched, educated opinion rather than blind faith in everything anyone has ever said.

I urge you to do real research from now on. In all matters concerning life. Even those you think you know inside and out. Especially now.

And do not begin with the news. Because the media deliberately makes stories as dramatic and controversial as possible. They get paid by the number of eyeballs that see their story, and they get paid more when they hold your attention for longer.

Whether they report on facts is for you to decide. But do not accept what’s being said blindly. Look into matters for yourself.

Begin with sources you do not typically explore. Begin at the library. And dig as deep as you can. Because the answers are there. For now. They may not be for long.

Engage in true research. I urge you.

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How Dare You Call Me “Unlimited”

How Dare You Call Me “Unlimited”

As is the wont of social media hounds, I received a non-sequitur, context-free message on Instagram today.

I don’t understand exactly what the question or situation was. But if I were to recreate it, the essence of it was this:

How dare you call me unlimited when even my government prevents me from feeding my family?

Here is what I can share:

Limitlessness is Not About Your Circumstances

These are complicated times. And in complicated times, we are typically more exacerbated than in easier, more free-flowing times.

Limitations. Restrictions. We see them everywhere right now. And everyone has been impacted.

No, none of us have been impacted equally. Some are making a little less money. Others have lost their job or home. And there are those whose health has been severely impacted.

So, given the circumstances, we begin to question our limitlessness.

What’s a little goofy about this is that there were limitations and restrictions before, even if they weren’t as severe. And we did not question our limitlessness then.

Your circumstances have nothing to do with your limitlessness. Here’s why:

Understanding Your Unlimited Nature

First and foremost, your unlimited nature can always be found within you.

If you try to go looking for it outside of yourself, you may not find it. You may be blind to it. But what you must remember is that you are the very image of god.

If you are the image of god, who is unlimited, then that limitlessness is surely inside you also.

We often try to look outside to prove to ourselves how unlimited we are. But this doesn’t work. Because it’s seeking permission for something you already are.

If you asked your parent, “may I have a cookie?” when you already have a cookie in your hand, your parent would look back at you puzzled.

We may feel less than limitless at times. But this only serves to remind us of our true nature, which is unlimited. Because we feel the injustice of feeling less than free.

But we can only feel less than free if we give other people, events, and circumstances power they do not have.

We can only feel less than free if we give other people, events, and circumstances power they do not have. Click To Tweet

Your Creativity is Unlimited

If the problem cannot be solved one way, perhaps it can be solved another way.

You were given the unique gift of imagination, which is truly unlimited. You can go anywhere you want in your mind.

People just like you have come up with all kinds of inventions to solve their own problems. And some of those people have gone onto become wealthy beyond measure, because solving one person’s problem often means solving another’s problem too.

Is there a creative solution you have yet to explore? Have you tried thinking outside the box?

Do not get mad and say, “how can you say that in a time like this – I need an answer now!”

Now is the most critical time to begin to explore other ways of accomplishing what you need to accomplish. Because in times of difficulty, the tough begin to innovate.

In times of difficulty, the tough begin to innovate. Click To Tweet

And remember that you cannot come up with unique solutions when you are provoked. You must calm yourself and then look at the situation with a clear head.

Further, difficulty was never a key ingredient in the innovation. But it served as a catalyst for the action. And sometimes we need the catalysts to begin moving in the direction we were already going.

Poking the Lion

Oftentimes, our knee-jerk response to challenges is protest.

But before taking any action, it would be best to evaluate the wisdom behind poking the lion. I will tell you that there is none.

If you improvise a battle with a lion, the lion will surely win, as it’s a born predator. Unless you are a skilled and experienced warrior, surely you will be defeated.

If the fight with the lion is inevitable, then it would be better to strategize before entering the battle. Coming up with a plan. Preparing the personnel and the resources. Practicing execution.

If the fight with the lion is inevitable, then it would be better to strategize before entering the battle. Click To Tweet

And, indeed, if everything progresses as it has been progressing, then a fight with the lion is inevitable.

But you want to be prepared. To be shrewd and wise. To be calculated in how you fight.

Much the same way questions and answers are on two separate wavelengths, so are resistance and solutions. What you want to do is align yourself with the wavelength of the solution rather than the resistance. If you align yourself with resistance, no solution will be available.

What you want to do is align yourself with the wavelength of the solution rather than the resistance. If you align yourself with resistance, no solution will be available. Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts

People, events, and circumstances can leave us feeling discouraged and less-than. It happens to each of us in this experience. Charmed lives do not exist. No one is exempt from people, events, and circumstances.

But we have a choice. The choice is in the meaning we create around the people, events, and circumstances. Amazingly, we can change the meaning we attach to anything, long after any of it has manifested.

Just because you say you are no longer unlimited because something happened to you does not make it any less true. Whatever happened left you less than powerful, but that’s because of how you interpreted the situation.

Interpretation can happen rapidly and subconsciously. But as I said, you can choose your interpretation after the fact.

You do not need to know that you are limitless. Because you already are. The question is, will you let people, events, and circumstances make you feel limited?

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