I don’t know about you, but a lot of times I found myself wonder about where thoughts come from. Who is this voice inside my head that talks and talks and makes me feel insecure, or sad, or happy?
Am I that voice or I am the one who hears that voice? I know, why the hell should I ask myself that?
It turns out that many of us pop this kind of questions once in a while, but we don’t linger too much in finding the answer because it looks very complicated and we don’t have time for that.
We have problems to solve, places to be, jobs to perform, kids to raise, feelings to fight, feelings to discover, fears to overcome. This is each and every one of us on a daily basis.
I started this year reading through some really cool books: the first one was “Limitless”, which helped me tremendously in understanding the way my brain works, how I can improve my reading speed and how to boost my memory.
Then “Atomic Habits” kicked me in the stomach with really cool and OBVIOUS insights about goals, dreams and behaviours.
A while ago I bought this course on Evercoach, called Impacting Leaders. This is where I found Michael Neil for the first time. He is one of the most appreciated transformative coaches in the world and I wanted to see why. I was never a fan of methodologies and rules when it comes to working with people, and this course promised to unlock the “universal truths” about the human potential and how you can help people to understand themselves better.
I resonated with the main ideas of the course, but somehow I was not totally into it. I finished the course and moved on with my life.
But little by little, as my coaching practice grew, I started to realize that I don’t want to give solutions to my clients. I am not a problem fixer. Coaching is not about that. We don’t take problems and fix them.
Our role is to reveal the client to themselves, so they can find the solutions inside them. And that lead me again to Michael Neil.
His book “The inside out revolution” was on my reading list since I followed his course, but I knew that now is the perfect time, because I felt ready to finally embody what I already knew.
We often believe that our experience is shaped from the outside in: what happens around us determines how we feel inside. The people and situations around us make us happy, sad, angry, loved. And that leads us to a continuous search for situations and people that can make us feel more good feelings rather than bad ones.
But what if we switch this belief? What if our experiences happen from the inside out?
How do you explain that if a situation is truly happy or sad, for different persons can mean different things?
Take the birth of a child, for example. Theoretically a person coming into this world should be a happy event. But how do you explain that in some cultures, when a child is born, the people around them cry and are sad? Because that means something else for them.
I somehow felt this deep down in my heart to be true, because I myself experienced this through my transformation. Things that hurt me so much in the past, now are a part of who I am, I am grateful for them and I understand how pain shaped the person that I am today. I just changed my perspective towards them.
Bare with me, I know it’s a lot to take in.
Michael Neil explains things pretty simple. There are 3 principles of life. A principle is something that is universally true, regardless of the circumstances. As the principle of gravity, for example. The gravity exists, no matter what you think about it. Even if you don’t think it exists, the gravity is there, holding you down to earth.
Back at our life principles, Michael Neil and his mentor, Syd Banks, tell us that there are 3 principles of life.
- The principle of Mind. The Mind is the energy, the spirit, the life that runs through everything. Call it energy, prana, a higher intelligence, matter, Universe, God, vibration, whatever you feel like. The Mind exists, no matter what you think about it. The Mind is what connects everything around us.
- The principle of Consciousness. Consciousness is the one that allows us to experience life. Consciousness is infinite. Is like a mirror that reflects everything that passes in front of it. I like to describe it as what the sky is for the clouds. The sky is the consciousness, and the clouds are the thoughts. Which leads us to the next principle.
- The principle of Thought. “Thought is pure creative potential”, says Syd Banks. “If life is the canvas, the consciousness allows us to appreciate the beauty of a painting. And thoughts are the paintbrush.” And Neil continues this idea beautifully: “Thoughts have no power. It’s only when you breathe life into them that they begin to seem real. What makes thoughts appear to be so powerful is that the more we invest our attention in them, the more real they start to feel.” (Michael Neil, “Supercoach).
Ok, what now? What do we do with this information?
It’s a lot to take in, I myself struggled to wrap my head around it and I am not sure that I succeeded.
But it does make sense. We shape our own realities. Only we have the power to see things in a certain way, based on our previous experience, based on our beliefs about those things.
This is good, this is bad, this is awful, this is happiness, this is sadness. We label things, we give them meanings.
But in reality, things just…are. But our way of viewing those things is what shapes our experience about them. Ever wondered why something made you happy in the past, but now it makes you sad? Or not satisfied anymore? What changed? Probably your perception about that situation.
We all have our own psychology, but we are not our psychology. We are not our thoughts. We are the thinker who thinks those thoughts. Which takes us to an interesting point, and that is: we all come from the same place. We all have the same potential in having great lives. Well being and calmness are our natural states of mind. We just add worries and thoughts and judgements and perceptions to those states.
Do you think babies are born worried? Do you think babies are born thinking “I already have a hard life”? No. They just add these thoughts to their natural state while growing up.
Why? Because this is our natural state.
Thoughts are like the waves of an ocean. They come and go. This is a fact. No matter what you think about them. We are the ones that hold the thoughts and dance around them over and over.
As long as we hold on to the thoughts, we don’t allow new waves to come.
In the “Impacting leaders” course, Michael Neil gave a really good example:
How do you observe the sand in a glass full of water? Do you stir it? Do you shake the glass and mix the water? No. You put the glass on the table and let the water calm down. And then the sand just settles at the bottom of the glass and you can look at it. You can study it, you can see its color, shape, granulation.
The same applies to our thoughts. They create our reality, but is this what reality is? No. It’s just our experience.
And when you understand this 3 principles of life, nothing is personal anymore.
Not the boss being an asshole to you, not the kids being disrespectful, not the spouse ignoring you. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about you. Things are happening around you even if you don’t intervene. Some happen because of your actions, but still, the sun rises and sets without your intervention. People are born and people are dying without your intervention. The earth revolves around the sun without your intervention.
And that takes away a lot of pressure, and brings things into perspective. That means that as I said, that nothing is personal.
It’s not about you. We spend so much time avoiding to take action because what would people think about us. Do you really think that people think that much of you? It will come as a shock, but no.
And even if they judge you, do you think they will spend their entire life judging you? And even if they did, do you think that your life won’t have to continue if they judge you? Do you think that you won’t have to brush you teeth in the morning, or eat, or sleep because someone judges you? No. Life will continue no matter if you feel ashamed, or judged. Because that is only a construct of your mind.
“When your mind is empty, it can be filled with insights from natural intelligence that exists beyond your personal thinking.”
If you just stop and be quiet you can allow your innate intelligence to come up with new perspectives and creative thoughts. It’s like restoring the factory defaults. It’s going back to basics and to what your mind and consciousness are doing naturally. It’s like gravity. It just exists. And it just holds you down to earth. The same with the 3 principles. They just exist and they do just what they are meant to do, regardless of what you try to change.
And as always, it comes down to the false idea of control. The more you try to control your thoughts, the more power you give them. You just get caught in the thoughts about the thoughts. Crazy, right? Yeah, that’s what we do.
One thing that stuck with me after reading the book and I think it pretty much sums up the main idea of it, is that “we are not humans that are having a spiritual experience. We are spirits that have a human experience”. Because we shape our own realities. Our own experiences.
We are not the ones that identify with our thoughts, we are much more than that. We are the ones that think, we are the mind and the oneness behind the thoughts.