Reflections: Question Yourself

And most important: Question yourself. Question yourself everyday. (Jocko Willink)

Too often we mirror others in the hopes of finding something about ourselves. We may follow the plans set out for us by our parents or teachers or other advisors and hope that by doing so, we can navigate through life in a fulfilled manner. Or we act like the people we admire, taking on their habits, mannerisms, beliefs and opinions, all the while distancing ourselves from our true nature. When you don’t know what you want to be or what you want in life, it’s only natural to grasp on to something that gives you and your life a sense of stability.

But this stability is rarely long-lasting. The fulfillment we get from doing what we are told and by following rather than leading our own lives is illusionary. What we lack is self-understanding. We are too busy trying to fulfill the requirements of others which we come to believe are our own plans and ideas that we rarely question who we are, why are we acting the way we do and what is it that we truly want out of life.

Ask yourself: Who am I? What have I learned? What have I created? What forward progress have I made? Who have I helped? What am I doing to improve myself—today? To get better, faster, stronger, healthier, smarter?

The simple and straightforward questions. Sometimes, self-reflection comes with the baggage of spiritual or mystical. In the sense that when reflecting upon our needs and wants we jump straight to the meaning of our lives, the purpose of lives, the point of our lives and such questions can be difficult to answer and can leave us more confused rather than giving us clarity which self-reflection is supposed to. But by narrowing the search, by focusing on our immediate actions such as what have you done today to make yourself healthier or smarter or what have you done to make someone else’s life easier, it can provide a sense of direction especially if your actions were accompanied by positive emotions.

You may not know what you want to do with your life but you now know that helping others felt good. The meaning of your life may be still unclear but you do know that in your day-to-day living you enjoy going for a run or reading about Roman history or the new technological advances. These small puzzle pieces can come together to form a picture that can show you what you want to look like.

Ask yourself those questions, those hard questions and then answer them, truthfully. And realize that all of us—ALL OF US—can do better. We can be better.

Life is about change, it is about growth, about evolution. By unpacking what you want through relentless self-examination in the form of questioning oneself, we step closer to finding out who we want to be, what we can do and what we wish to do. However, even such an understanding isn’t permanent. What you find in your 20s may not be what you want in your 30s or 40s and so on. So, the answers that helped you at one stage of your life may not benefit you at a later stage which is why the constant need to reflection and question yourself and your behaviors, attitudes, and emotions is a necessary tool in life.

There is really only one permanence in life which is death. Everything else is liable to change, including ourselves. But that change only comes if we are willing to explore other possibilities. These possibilities include different versions of ourselves. However, to explore these possibilities, one needs to have a self-reflective mind, a mind that is always open and questioning.

Book Referenced: Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink

Your Feelings Don’t Get A Vote

We often know what we are supposed to do and what we shouldn’t. It’s easy to sit down and make a to-do list, to plan out your ideal day or week, to set goals and map out a plan of action. Yet, with all that being said, we may still lack the desire to act. Instead of following the set plan, we can find ourselves veering off the path and repeating habits we are trying to break. There is a struggle in the execution of a plan.

According to Steven Pressfield, in The War of Art, that struggle comes from the resistance that lies inside of us. As Pressfield put it:

It’s not writing that’s the hard part. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.

Resistance comes in many forms and its goal is to win small battles. Resistance understands that the more you give in, the stronger it gets. So, the snooze button helps resistance gain an immediate victory. It plays into the soreness you are feeling so you think it’s a good idea to skip the workout. It’ll tell you that you are too hungry right now and that it’s best if you start your work an hour or two later, once you’ve eaten something. Knowing full well that in a couple hours, it’ll come up with another way to procrastinate. It’ll pick at that negative voice in you that tells you that you’re not good enough or that what you are doing isn’t worth the trouble.

A simple way of understanding when resistance might show its ugly little head is:

Any act that rejects immediate gratification for long term growth, health or integrity.

What makes resistance a hard enemy is that it is self-generated. It comes from within. Also, it can never really be beaten. It can only be overcome for that day and then, the next day it is another battle with that inside voice.

If you don’t understand resistance, you can be easily manipulated. If you don’t know who the enemy is and cannot see the signs of the enemy then how can you expect to win? To be free?

The truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.

Resistance can be that master. It can run your life and ruin it. This might not be in the usual sense, for you can still live a good life with Resistance but you will never be able to live the life you wish to live if your actions are dictated by Resistance. So, in this sense, ones life being ruined does not come from financial bankruptcy or poor relationships and things of that nature but rather, this understanding in you that you caved in to the struggle and hardship that comes with aiming at the highest possible life for yourself and that you settled for some worse version of yourself.

Finding the enemy is half the battle, the other half is actually beating it. One way to fight resistance is to change your perspective on it.

Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

In this manner, you can gauge the authenticity of your action if you feel this need to not do it. To delay the action. To do what is opposite and to take the easy path. All of this can bring clarity to your mind for you know that you are on the right path when there is a great deal of Resistance in you. So, you can be thankful for that voice inside of you.

Another way to do combat resistance is by controlling your mind.

This is where, the former Navy Seal Commander,¬†Jocko Willink’s¬†advice on mind control matters. For Jocko, mind control means controlling ones own thoughts and impulses rather than that of someone else’s, as it’s traditionally understood. You can control your mind and fight resistance in a simple way: just don’t give resistance a vote.

You have control over your mind. You just have to assert it. You have to decide that you are going to be in control, that you are going to do what YOU want to do. Weakness doesn’t get a vote. Laziness doesn’t get a vote. Sadness doesn’t get a vote. Frustration doesn’t get a vote. Negativity DOESN’T GET A VOTE! Your temper doesn’t get a vote. So next time you are feeling weak or lazy or soft or emotional, tell those feelings they don’t get a vote.

 

 

For more daily updates follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/learned_living/

Jocko Willink On Dealing With Stress

I previously wrote a blog in which I introduced Jocko Willink and one of his core principles of prioritizing and execute, this can be found here. As the title suggests, this blog is concerned with handling stress and who better to take advice from than a former navy seal commander.

Stress needs no introduction. We have all experienced stress and sometimes dealt with it successfully and other times have given in to the pressure. It is for those times where stress got the better of us that I turn to Jocko for advice.

In his book, Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual, Jocko simply states two things concerning stress.

First is to gain perspective. Not to minimize what you are going through but it is always good to understand that other people have been through much worse. This does not mean that what you are going through isn’t important. It is important and it is real but remember, those people who have had stress beyond what you have ever experienced, they made it through that, they figured out what was required and they were able to deal with their stress, which means you can too.

But warriors have faced much much worse: The Battle of the Somme, or Gettysburg, or the Battle of the Bulge, or the Chosin Reservoir. Humans can withstand almost inconceivable stress — and you can too.

Perspective allows you to take a deep breath and calm your mind and think clearly.

Secondly, you must detach from your situation. This is done in order to see if you have control over whatever it is that is causing you stress. This is a simple yes or no. If the answer is no, then, you just have to accept the situation that is causing you stress.

The worst thing about incoming artillery fire is you can’t control it. It is happening and you just have to accept it. Don’t stress about things you can’t control.

However, if the answer is yes and you do have control over the situation that is causing you stress, then detachment allows you to see your own lack of discipline and ownership of the situation which has resulted in it becoming a stressor. So, simply take control of the situation, solve the issue and relieve the stress.