This week's guest, Carlos, was a success at sports but lagged behind his siblings in academics. After reflecting on his circumstances, Carlos realized that he could succeed in school by applying the same principles that made him a good athlete as well as a good student. He translated his success from one area of his life to another. Today he is committed to making an impact in schools around America, translating that success to kids. As opposed to thinking of this as a process of learning new skills, he encourages us to think of it as unlearning. Maybe we need to UNLEARN what we already think we know, to make space for what we don't. What we need first is a willingness to see ourselves, with all our mess, in all our stress and still want to do better, one step at a time.
When it comes to change, what is the scary part? So I've been thinking about this one. What scares me about needing to go inward? In conclusion to this, I have realised that the only thing which can really scare us is the call to confront ourselves. To allow ourselves to be seen as messy and imperfect. To understand that in order to get better in any way, we have to look at ourselves with compassion and empathy. Perhaps there is alot we don't know, but there is an opportunity to find out and learn and grow, and that's beautiful. The difficult part is always the first step, but that first step is crucial to change.
"The difficult part is always the first step, but that first step is crucial to change. "
Carlos reminds us that change doesn't happen just when someone tells us to do it. I have heard countless stories of people trying to break habits like smoking or alcohol addiction, unable to break out of the loophole for years, only to then pack it in overnight, when they discover a strong enough reason to do so. Cold turkey is hard, but not impossible. Of course this depends on the circumstances. Some people need more support in order to make those life changing changes and sometimes the truth is, we need people in our corner, backing us, cheering us on and letting us know we aren't alone. Unless and until we have been in a specific situation, we can't really advise others accurately, yet many people don't hesitate to share their opinion, even when it comes to another person's personal decisions, even with people we hardly know!
"Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another's world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding." - Bill Bullard
"When you deal with your own shit, you're able to see other people's shit." But that's just it. We need to deal with our own mess first. All change is messy at first but how often do we regret the "good" changes? I doubt very much. Sure we can sit and debate what constitutes as "good," but I'm not interested in that. I am a firm believer that thoughts do become things. So if this principle is true, every decision first starts as a thought. If we change our thoughts, we change the outcome, we change the decision and ultimate the path that follows. If we keep thinking shitty thoughts, we do shitty things. It's not about attraction (if that's what you're into) it's fact. How many times, when you're having a bad day and are in a bad mood, do you take it out on someone else? It's usually with those closest to us because it's more likely they will tolerate our behaviour and pardon it. Strangers in this case would be less forgiving. The point is, our thoughts are off and it spills over into everything, even the people we are with. This gives me some relief on the other hand, because that actually means we can assist this process of positive change. If we can recognise the thoughts in time, we can adapt our behaviour and if we adapt we do better, because WE ARE better.
Becoming better isn't this faraway, inaccessible dream. It's more of an everyday commitment to shedding our old layer of skin. Dying to ourselves everyday. It's kinda carthartic. I love reflecting at the end of each day, even if it's just a conversation in my own head. Could I have been a little kinder to someone today? Was I multi-tasking at any point and not being present? Was I unkind to myself? Did I learn something new? And this conversation with myself inspires me to be a better self tomorrow. Why you may ask? Well because life is so damn short and I really don't want to take anything for granted. And because I'm not perfect, I know tomorrow I might forget a couple of these things and that's completely ok, but if I don't take responsibility for me, no one else will. It always comes down to baby steps and little changes everyday, and over time that's the magic sauce to the big change that everyone else sees.
"If we can recognise the thoughts in time, we can adapt our behaviour and if we adapt we do better, because WE ARE better. "
Carlos's work with kids is truly inspirational. Educating kids from a young age about how to express themselves, how to navigate through emotions at home or at school and how to operate from a place of less judgement and more empathy is changing lives everyday! I wish I had this training in school in my day. If kids need this, imagine how much adults need this too. It's so easy to blame parents for parenting, but parents can only pass on what they do know, and if they don't know any other better, they can only share from their own capacity. We can't go through life taking the role of a victim. Sure we will all have times where we take on those passive roles and aggressive roles, but the place where the magic happens is that middle voice! In theatre, the middle voice refers to you tapping into your truth. No facade, no extra spice on top. Raw, vulnerable, free and non performative. It's not getting stuck into the trap of needing to people please or tick a box but operating from the most authentic voice, your voice. If at school we were told that this voice is beautiful, it's important, it's EVERYTHING, I wonder how much heartbreak, turmoil, and battle with mental health would have been avoided.
It's never too late to unlearn.