One Apple A Day #642 – The Power of Belief

Your beliefs drive your behaviours. And your behaviours determine the outcome you achieve.

Stronger beliefs make you act smarter, better, and with greater resilience and determination. 

Beliefs are so powerful that they shape your identity and life.

When you believe in something, you just filter reality accordingly. I would say that you model your reality around your beliefs. That’s how powerful beliefs are.

When you truly believe in something or someone you overcome fear, doubts and anything that stands in the way of your action. 

Yet, you should never forget that your beliefs are not the truth.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” — Marcus Aurelius

You create your beliefs over the years, mostly unconsciously. They can make you incredibly powerful and effective, they can help you focus. But they can also limit you, making you blind to the infinite possibilities of the world.

I’m not sure about what I wanted to share this morning. Beliefs are a vast topic.

My reflections have been kindled by some conversations but mostly by witnessing the power of believing in something greater. And I’m wondering. Does that power come from the object of that belief or from the act of believing itself, from within?

One Apple A Day #641 – an infinite story

“Can we ever know who we really are?”

Lately, I’ve been pondering and writing a lot about identity. About the importance of knowing who I am and defining my actions from my identity to make them more powerful.

Then this morning, I opened the laptop for this little writing exercise of mine. As usual, I started by clearing the space closing the programs and documents I left open yesterday evening. And in one of them, a page with all text that I highlighted on the books I read recently, this question stood out.

“Can we ever know who we really are?”

Can I? 

I mean, I know my name, story, facts, skills and so on. For sure, I have knowledge about myself, but that’s just the surface. Maps, as I wrote a few days ago.

I’m also aware that there are also parts of me that I can’t see. My blind spots. Thanks to my relationships and conversations, I keep shading more light on them, but I don’t know how many are still there.

But even if I could cast away every shadow and illuminate every dark corner, I feel that it won’t be enough. There is more to me, and to everyone that our limited minds can grasp.

That’s what makes this journey of life so fascinating to me; it is infinite.

One Apple a Day #639 – the power within

Some people I love, they find peace and relief in visiting holy places. Others experience unity with humanity and nature only when they step into a sacred space of like-hearted people. Some have experienced the absolute freedom of their mind inherent nature, thanks to substances. Others feel powerful only when they are within a relationship.

It looks like we need some external help to step into our full potential.
I understand that. I am no different.
To unlock my potential, I need enough trust to tear down the walls I built to protect it. And that means to become vulnerable.

It is often easier to trust an external entity, being it a place, a person, a substance or a symbol, than ourselves.
But we should never forget that the real power, the energy is already there. It is within us.
Whatever external help we needed to overcome our limitations, we must always remember that it is not the source of our energy. It is just an instrument, a door opener.

You already have all the power within you.

One Apple a Day #638 – love more

This morning I wanted to write about sacrality.

But then, I lowered the shield I use to protect my morning space, and the pain of the world flew in. All over the world, human beings are oppressed, killed, abused by other human beings. It is daunting.

And from my safe and comfortable place, the same questions keep coming back: “Why? What can I do?“.

To the first question, I don’t have the answer. And maybe there are no answers. But I keep going back to something I read in Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frank.

“We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

Maybe these words can help me find the answers to both questions.

If there is something I can learn from all this suffering, is that love is the only way forward. 

I know, it may sound cheesy, but that’s my personal learning.

I need, and I want to love more.

And because our answer must consist in “right action and in right conduct”, to me it means to be kind to everyone. 

To smile to the cashier at the supermarket who’s having a tough day, to greet the neighbours who never say hello, to wait patiently for the old man to cross the road. There is so much I can do every day.

I’m aware that it won’t ease the pain or relieve the suffering of all these human beings around the world. 

But that’s not a reason to not start being a better human, here, today

One Apple a Day #636 – Identity, maps and territory

The map is not the territory” is a powerful metaphor coined by Alfred Korzybski to illustrates the differences between belief and reality, between an object and a representation of that object.

Often, maybe too often, we confuse maps with territories, our idea or model of something with the thing itself.

Last weekend I was immersed in a powerful workshop about identity and change. While I was meditating and reflecting, a compelling question surfaced in my awareness.

Is identity the map or the territory?

To answer that question, I began jotting down a few characteristics of both. The map, being a representation, is finite and partial. That makes it knowable and understandable. But there also can be many maps of the same territory.

On the other side, the territory is one, infinite and whole. That means we can never know it or understand it all. All these characteristics imply that it can be known only through one or more maps. 

But a territory can be experienced and lived even if we don’t have a map.

I like to think of my identity as the territory. One, infinite and whole. 

I’m well aware that the only way to know me, it’s through a map. Some of them I draw, others are created by others. 

My writing is a sort of map of my territory. My work, my relationships, my stories. They are all maps.

We can only know someone through maps. 

But, as it happens when we travel, to really experience a territory, we must lift our eyes from the maps and look around. We must explore with all our senses, we must connect, immerse our hands in the messiness of things.

It is only when we set all the maps aside that we can really experience the true identity of someone. Even if we won’t be able to draw a map out of it.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

References:

One Apple A Day #635 – Mutual listening

Today, in my morning meditation, I focused on listening.
Considering that I’m going to facilitate a group on listening and that I picked a card saying that “a deeper level of listening is needed”, it was a natural choice.

While I was breathing into this thought, I realised that lately I’ve been talking and thinking and about listening more than I’ve been doing it.

My recurring struggle aligning what I know with what I do.

I tell a friend to take some time off and walk in nature, while I spend most of my time sitting with my laptop. I write about the importance of having clarity about who we are to guide our steps, and I don’t take time to explore my own identity.

How easy it is to get trap into the doing. When our intentions and actions are not in sync, that’s a good sign that we are losing the connection with our true self.

Listening is a good example. It is easier listening to others than to my self.
Yet, this apparent weakness hides also an opportunity.
If it’s easier to listen to others, than maybe we can help each other in this.
We can be the listeners for others while others are the listeners for us.
Through meaningful conversation and trust, we can create a space of mutual listening.

Fancy a conversation?

One Apple A Day #634 – of a blank canvas, greed and awareness

I did it.

Even if I knew the consequences, I did what a very wise Vincent van Gogh recommended not to do. 

“Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don’t know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, ‘You can’t do a thing’. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of `you can’t’ once and for all.”

Seconds, minutes were ticking away, but nothing was coming out of my fingers. The white screen expanding and taking over my mind. 

Until I felt as if Vincent himself slapped me in the face telling me to wake up. 

So, here I am. Jotting words on the keyboard, hoping that in the end, they will fit together and make sense. 

Greed.

Yes, greed is the first word popping up.

I try to stay away as much as I can from the news. It is a way to protect my energy. But it’s impossible to ignore all the awful things going on in the world. I can’t understand how some human beings can be so cruel. Then I see small things happening around me. Good people, with good intentions making choices that hurt others.

And the word greed keeps coming back. 

But time is almost running out.

And I don’t want to close this post with negative thoughts. 

So, I balance greed with the word awareness.

In the end, it all goes back to expanding our awareness.

One Apple A Day #633 – waves

This morning I’ve been reminded of the disruptive power of emotions. Usually, I’m quite good at protecting this private space of reflections and writing. When I sit down to seek inspirations, I let everything that is running in my mind to wander free so that peace can emerge.

But this morning is different. Yesterday, I became aware of something that struck a nerve. I’m not even sure why, to be honest, but this is another path to explore. The point is that I woke up with these emotions flowing in my system. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get over them, and I can’t keep them away from this space of reflections. They keep coming back and engender thoughts that fill up this space.

No doubts that they are telling me something.

But even more than that, they remind me of the significant role that emotions play in our lives.
When an emotion surges, it is like a wave washing out everything in its way. Trying to resist can be exhausting. For sure, it has been for me this morning until I decided to ride that wave.
And when I stopped resisting, when I gave up the idea of controlling it, peace came.
And with it the words for this post.

 

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

One Apple A Day #632 – outgrow your systems

I am a big fan of structures and systems. 

Maybe because willpower is not high on my list of strengths, I learned that they are vital to reaching any goal.

But there’s a caveat. 

They, systems and structures, should never become the goal.

If you want to reach a particular outcome, you can just rely on defining goals. No matter how S.M.A.R.T. your goals are, they are not enough to move you forward.

In the past, before I understood the importance of systems, I use to think that I wasn’t achieving success because my goals weren’t high, bold or smart enough.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” — James Clear

Goals are the starting point to set the direction. But it’s only when you design a system around those goals that you make real progress.

Unfortunately, it is easy to fall in love with the systems we create. In particular when they work, obviously. 

Systems and structures are very sexy for the rational mind. They are made of shapes and forms. That means that, no matter how flexible they are, they still have boundaries and limitations.

When the system becomes the goal, then we are limiting our potential to grow within the boundaries of the system itself.

The best system is one designed to support and sustain our growth, as individuals, teams or organisations. 

The ultimate purpose of a system is to become obsolete.

So, when we outgrow it, we can mould into an evolved version of ourselves.

 

Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

One Apple A Day #631 – Abandon

To abandon means to give up completely something, to release any inhibition or restraint. 

There is magic in abandon. In surrendering and giving up control.

It’s liberating. It expands the boundaries of your awareness.

Unfortunately, I experienced that rarely in my life. And any time it wasn’t deliberate. It just happened.

You’re being massaged, and the masseur asks you to entirely abandon a part of your body in his hands. Like the neck or a leg, so he can apply a manoeuvre moving that part freely. 

That is something I’m not able to do. I can’t.

I can’t give up completely the control of my body. 

I can’t surrender fully to something or someone.

I don’t think it’s a matter of trust. And I don’t picture myself as someone wanting to control everything. Even if I may be blind to this.

It feels as if there is some kind of wiring in me that holds me back from surrendering, from giving up the control on what’s happening.

Yesterday evening a dear friend gave me a fascinating idea. 

I should exhaust myself out. Do something physical that burns all my energy, that wears me out and leave me empty.

Maybe at that point, where there won’t be any energy left to build resistance, I’ll be ready to surrender.

Time to plan something.

Can you surrender totally to something or someone?