Victimhood

It’s all Obi-Wan’s fault. He’s jealous. He’s holding me back!” – Anakin

Anakin Skywalker was a victim. Born a slave to a slave on a desolate and lawless planet, Anakin did not have a childhood. The absence of a father figure ensured that he would forever seek out a role model that met his expectation of what a father should be. Anakin sought a surrogate family in Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padme Amidala. The Jedi became his extended family as he grew but it was not enough. There was always something missing, something that troubled the young man. A darkness would grow in him filling that void.

Anakin craved recognition and acceptance. The Jedi Order would not make him a Jedi Master though he felt he deserved it. The Jedi were a meritocracy and did not award rank based on perceived entitlement gained from disadvantage. Jedi earned their place through merit not equity of outcome. Obi-Wan Kenobi did not treat Anakin with high enough regard which caused frustration and resentment. Anakin demanded respect not realizing that respect is earned. Anakin demanded love not understanding that love is not taken but offered freely by another. The darkness in Anakin grew and Palpatine took advantage and manipulated it. Unable to control himself Anakin sought to control others and failing that he desired to control the Force. The Victim then became the oppressor.

One of the things that kept me in addiction and prevented any chance of meaningful and long-term recovery and growth was a conviction that I was a victim. I felt I was deserving of special treatment. Life had let me down. I had drawn the short straw in genetics and destiny. My parents were working class immigrants. I was short and skinny. My English was accented. We moved around a lot and I was not particularly good at school or sports. I was introverted and awkward around my peers and especially around girls. My moods were “troublesome” and I would often be in trouble for fighting at school or being inattentive or disruptive in the class room. For my troubles I was often beaten at home by an alcoholic father. My mother suffered terribly and died broken.

These things I carried in to adult hood and still carry today. They are an important part of who I became and why I did the things I did. My alcoholism was a product of a desperate childhood and a deep need to fit in and be accepted. There was also a spiritual hole that needed to be filled. I’d always felt abandoned by God. The God taught to me in religious schools was despotic and callous, not the Higher Power I know today.

My greatest burden was a feeling of victimhood. I always felt as a second class citizen, an outcast and misfit. My response was to swing between forced attempts to integrate at one end and anger and resentment at a world that seemed to reject me at every turn. I was constantly drawing people in to push them away. Always there was the feeling of being the victim.

Alcohol was the answer to all of my problems. It granted me access where previously I had been denied entry. I could be outgoing, funny and talk to anyone. Women no longer seemed a problem to attract and I had no lack of friends everywhere I went. The world seemed like it had infinite possibilities. In the sober light of day I awoke to another reality. I was lonely, anxious and depressed. Gradually I became dependent on alcohol. Fear set in and as it did so did anger and hate.

There comes a point when drinking was no longer fun. The illusion eventually gives way to reality. How things are imagined soon prove to be false. I was fooled and the feeling of being the victim descended heavily on me. Fear, loathing and self-pity were my constant companions. I was now a victim of alcoholism. As I attempted to gain my sobriety I played the victim. I felt I was entitled to be treated differently. It never occurred to me that I was the maker of my misfortune and I alone had the power to make it right.

Recovery requires that we reject a victim mentality and stop playing the victim. No one owes us anything. Self-pity, resentment and a feelings of entitlement are major stumbling blocks on the path to sobriety and sanity. To be granted preferential treatment on the basis of perceived injustices and past suffering is not congruent with a philosophy of self-improvement. Being higher on the hierarchy of victimhood does not confer a higher moral status.  By claiming victimhood we only stay victims.

Anakin had a victim mentality. One of the most powerful Jedi that every lived, the chosen one, could not get past the mental hurdle that he was an orphan and a slave. Anakin was unable to recognize that those close to him loved him, despite their flaws, they saw great hope in him. Anakin was blind to his fear, anger and hate that grew in him. The slave sought to be the master and finally he became a mere slave to the Dark Side.

Do you claim to be victim or do you claim victory over victimhood? Do you claim equal treatment and rely on your own merits or do you need to be carried and given free pass?

Image property of Lucas Films, Disney Ltd.

The Middle Path

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.” – The Jedi Code

One of my biggest concerns around the COVID19 is not the disease itself. My greatest fear is being locked down and being unable to function normally in society. The fear that many share is being socially cut off from people and being unable to work and participate in life. I believe that many recovering  alcoholics out there are suffering under lock-down and many have chosen to return to drinking and substance abuse deciding that life has no meaning and that they are doomed anyway.

The disease has a high rate of infection but it has a low lethality. The survival rate among persons aged 75 years or older is 95% which is comparative to other respiratory infectious diseases such as influenzas. Survival rates among younger people are staggeringly high and above 99.9%. The vast majority of people affected are those with comorbidities, suppressed immunity and advanced age. Those people can be protected and sheltered. People can be educated to take reasonable precautions such as basic hand hygiene, staying at home when feeling unwell and avoiding large crowded areas where possible. Masks can be optional rather than mandated and people can learn to cough in their elbows.

When I was a child I was taught the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. A healthy diet, exercise outdoors and a positive outlook help build the immune system and armour us from illness. As a child I was encouraged to play outside and explore nature. As a result I was often covered in dirt and mud and encountering insects, dead animals and all sorts of hazards. I survived and my immune system was fortified at the same time. Unless bed ridden and unable to move because of a cold, flu or the measles there was no lock down or isolation. We were cared for in a way that made sure we got better and were able to fight off future episodes. What happened to this way? Where did the common sense go?

Dr David Nabarro, a Special Envoy of the World Health Organization Director-General on COVID-19 suggested that the coronavirus is here to stay*. No amount of lock down will eradicate the risk. A vaccine would be unlikely to eliminate the virus from our lives. Dr Nabarro reasons that we should adopt a Middle Path. We should learn to to live with the virus instead of trying to fight it by harming the very people we are trying to protect through draconian laws. A Middle Path means taking reasonable measures that are proportionate to the risk. A reasoned and pragmatic solution can be found that saves lives and avoids the social and economic devastation of lock-downs especially among the disadvantaged and in poorer countries.

I understand taking extreme measures. Being alcoholic my behaviour was out of control. I had an attitude of “all or nothing”. Stopping at two or three drinks was out of the question, I had to keep drinking till either the booze ran out or I fell on my face. This distorted and extreme view of reality translated in to every aspect of my life. An insult or harsh words from a friend meant a fight and a ruined relationship. A reprimand from a boss meant the end of a job. I was convinced that a life without alcohol and selfish entitlement was not a life at all. Everything had to be forced and fit into my world view. I could not accept disagreement or contradiction.

In recovery I started with the same mindset. I tried to control and force everything. This is of course backfired. Recovery cannot be forced. Alcoholics learn that in order to recover they must first surrender self will and let go of the idea that they control everything. I wanted instant contented sobriety and spiritual enlightenment without putting in the time and work. As my progress faltered and slid back I doubled down and found myself even more frustrated with life, people, recovery and God.

I learned to take it easy and let go. Along the way I found the Middle Path. I knew that an inflexible and intolerant approach that forced a solution was not going to work. I also found there is no easy and soft way. Commitment, work, application, practice and discipline was necessary. The Middle Path meant doing it but doing it easy. I had to accept that things were going to be less than perfect. The goal was progress not perfection.

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda lived the Middle Path and avoided excesses or extremes. Jedi were pragmatic in approach. Emotions were valued and acknowledged but rarely played a part in decision making where reason, balance and objectivity were required.

In our reality today, listening to scientists is important but we should not blindly follow their guidelines as gospel. Application takes careful consideration of potential unwanted consequences. The Jedi Method would reject lock-downs as excessive and unnecessary and question the need for mandated masks. The virus can only be managed, not eradicated, at least not without causing untold suffering on humanity which we seek to avoid. The cure cannot be worse than cause whether we are talking about a virus or recovery.

Democracy

I love democracy. I love the Republic.” – Chancellor Sheev Palpatine

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” – Abraham Lincoln

Chancellor Sheev Palpatine was a political genius, influencer and diplomat with a career that spanned decades. Sheev Palpatine was first introduced in the Phantom Menace as the influential senator from Naboo. Charming, articulate, intelligent and even caring, Palpatine quickly gained the trust of Padmé Amidala and the confidence of the  Jedi. The politician had wit, intelligence, wisdom and a caring nature that was the essence of the Republic.

Palpatine was also master schemer, manipulator, liar and had all the traits of a narcissist and a psychopath. Through deception and manipulation he rose to the rank of Chancellor in the intergalactic senate. Over the ensuing years Palpatine was able to fool very capable and intelligent beings. He convinced all that he stood on the side of justice, truth and liberty. Behind that mask was the manifestation of pure evil; the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious.

We know the story. Chancellor Palpatine led a double life. In the senate he advocated for peace and order while in the shadows he orchestrated war and chaos. In public he spoke highly of the principles of democracy and justice while he exploited loop holes in the constitution to remain in power past his elected term. Advocating fairness and ethics, Palpatine used bribery and coercion to sway the Trade Federation and keep allies and foes in check. Count Dooku was used as a pretense to start war and seed chaos in the galaxy. Through deception Palpatine was granted emergency executive powers allowing him to build the greatest army the galaxy had ever seen. Through manipulation by fear and rage he convinced the Republic to enter a long and brutal war with the Separatist confederacy.

Palpatine played mentor and benefactor to Anakin Skywalker and manipulated his emotions and love for Padmé Amidala. He exploited that love to twist Anakin to the Dark Side. As his dictatorial powers in the senate increased, Palpatine was able to exploit weaknesses in the Jedi Order and sow division. Through Palpatine’s persuasion and manipulation, Anakin was gradually  alienated further from the Jedi Order. Palpatine exploited Anakin’s pain, fear and anger by promising to grant him the power to save Padmé from a prophesied death. In return Anakin submitted himself to the unmasked Dark Lord and became Darth Vader.

So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause.” – Padmé Amidala

Order 66 was issued. The Jedi Temple was ransacked and the Jedi were slaughtered almost to the last.  Some Jedi managed to escape to exile. The remnants of the Republic fled and started a fledgling rebellion. The Republic Fell and Palpatine with Darth Vader beside him declared the rise of the Empire. Darth Sidious became Emperor Palpatine and democracy died with thunderous applause.

The story is reminiscent of the fall of the Roman Republic with the rise of the dictator Julius Caesar. Cato the Younger, a celebrated Roman Stoic, resisted Caesar and is remembered for his courage, tenacity, stubbornness and dedication to principal. Leading a resistance against Caesar, first in the Senate and then on the battlefield, Cato fought to preserve the Republic but to no avail. His army was eventually defeated and Cato chose to take his own life than bending a knee to Caesar.

A long time ago in a galaxy far away Obi-wan Kenobi faced his former friend and pupil and also chose death over submission. Raising his Lightsaber to open his defense he was cut down by Darth Vader. The act freed Kenobi to unite with the Force and pushed Luke Skywalker to his ultimate destiny. One day the Empire would be toppled and the Republic would be restored. The Force would find balance.

In the real world there is no absolute good or evil, only shades of. No one but the worst psychopaths intend to do evil. The vast majority of people in this world simply make decisions everyday on how to live their lives. People choose to act in ways that are beneficial to their lives and the lives of others or they do not. Most people in most cases act in accordance with nature, which is to act in their own best interests without compromising or harming others. When we are asked to choose between political parties in an election we are exercising our democratic right to choose between individuals that are sworn to act in the best interests of the nation. We decide who best serves that ideal.

When I chose to drink I had no choice. By choosing to remain sober I keep the darkness at bay. I can continue to choose. Addiction, any addiction whether to power, love, prestige, fame or substance robs us of our choice. Eventually what we crave, owns us.

Lincoln once said that in every man there resides two conflicting sides. As an alcoholic I was at war with myself for decades and eventually one side emerged. Sometimes the better angel does not always prevail but eventually they do come out, if we let them. Sometimes we need to hit rock bottom or at least get a glimpse of it before we do. Remember that, especially in these times. We still have our democracy and we still have our freedom to choose what is right.

Service

A great service to the republic, you have done.”– Yoda

I did my duty as a citizen.” – Ahsoka Tano

Not as a Jedi?” – Yoda

The purpose of the Jedi was to serve the Republic. The Jedi cannot be compared to real world services such as the military, the diplomatic corps or law enforcement but they had elements of each. The goal of each is to serve the government which may or may not act on behalf of the people. The Jedi were no different however they were sworn to serve and protect the Republic which had been built on the precepts of democracy and rule of law. Each Jedi existed to that end. Without a Republic to serve there was no reason for the Jedi to exist.

“Fame, recognition—a Jedi does not seek these things. It was enough to serve and have good come from that.” – Plo Koon

Adopting Jedi philosophy carries with it an of expectation of service and a sincere desire to serve others. To be Jedi is by nature to avoid selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-serving behavior. Jedi take the focus off themselves and place it on others. This requires a degree of selflessness and self-sacrifice.

In active abuse we were selfish and did not think of others. If we served in some way it was often insincere. We were motivated to serve ourselves through the guise of helping others. Many serve only for thanks, recognition and reward.

Selfless service is a cornerstone of 12 Step Recovery. We only get to keep what we are willing to pass on. We expect nothing in return because we already have enough. The flow of healing energy must continue from one to the next, growing and expanding as it does. By helping others we help ourselves. We get out of self by focusing on others.

I only wanted to do my duty” – Fives

Most people think of service as being employed directly in the military, police, or in emergency. Service may also be voluntary and unpaid by giving time to worthy causes and charities. It might be providing support and aid to those in need through disaster or crisis relief. Donating clothes, blankets, money and blood is also an important form of service.

Many people also find it hard to dedicate themselves to service to others. Finding the time and opportunity to commit to worthy causes may not be for everyone. This should not preclude anyone from finding ways to be of service to others. Small everyday acts of kindness to others can be as important as dedicated service. Holding open a door, offering to help someone carry a heavy load or complete a difficult task, checking in on a friend, bringing groceries to those who are unable to leave their home are services in themselves. Doing your job to the best of your ability is also an act of service.

The benefits of service to others are obvious. By helping other you help yourself. Research shows that people who volunteer in worthy causes are generally happier and more satisfied with life. Volunteers feel a sense of purpose and community as well as a deeper sense of gratitude for what they have. If you are in a 12 Step group you will discover the joy of service to others simply by providing support by listening to others and being there.

Service was a duty of the Jedi. Even those who failed in their Jedi training went on to serve the Republic in the Jedi Service Corps. The work was hard, demanding at times dangerous and always thankless. Being Jedi is not providing service for the thanks, recognition, or reward but because it is what is done. It’s our duty as a citizen.

Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world” – Howard Zinn

Courage

Courage does not mean the absence of Fear but the willingness to place faith in our ability to rise above it.

“A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind.” –Yoda

The word courage is derived from the Latin word for heart “cor”. Courage was one of the cardinal virtues of the Stoics. A Roman was measured by not only his courage in the face of combat but also in his response to everyday adversity. A Stoic approached suffering with equanimity and acceptance. The courage shown in the face of uncertainty, pain and death were the only things that truly mattered.

The Jedi also had courage. The rigours of Jedi training, the trial of courage required it in abundance. Without courage a Jedi could not hope to survive the many ordeals that would confront her in a lifetime.

“Courage begins by trusting oneself.” – Moral

Face Fear

I lacked the courage to accept my alcoholism and the damage it had bought to my life and the life of others. Alcoholism made a coward out of me. It removed any willingness and heart to face mistakes and own up to them. I lacked the honesty and courage to accept accountability for my actions. It forced me to avoid or run from my responsibilities. Through the three steps I came to admit my problems, accept responsibility and believe that a Higher Power could restore my sanity and give me all the courage and strength I needed to recover.

Life is suffering. Every day is to face a degree of uncertainty in life. With experience we come to understand that plans and expectations rarely match outcomes. What we hope will transpire is often dashed by reality. We have all heard of “Murphy’s Law”. Expect the unexpected and always at the worst possible time. Life is fraught with unknowns, adversity, trials and challenges not to mention disappointments, failures and tragedies.

It is in the act of getting out of bed and facing the world that we demonstrate a measure of courage. With every heart break and loss that we endure, each disappointment that we accept and all the challenges that we face and overcome we show courage.

He certainly has courage.” – Princess Leia

Finding Courage

Courage cannot exist without fear. It is perfectly normal to feel fear. Some people are terrified of public speaking. Others find the challenge of leaving the house with trepidation. Many of us will feel fear for reasons we cannot articulate or do not understand. For example, the world is in a state of turmoil. The media bombards us with a constant stream of bad news and despair. Humanity seems to be in a state of chronic fear. The fear is not a tangible thing. It does not exist outside of our mind.

Fear is a normal human response; it is necessary to our survival. Courage is not the absence of fear but being able to act despite those fears. Courage is the person terrified of public speaking who stands in front of a crowd and delivers their speech. It is the person who walks out of their home to face a hostile world. Courage is choosing to face yours fears despite every fibre in your being that screams at you to turn back. Courage is the very essence of being human because without it, humanity could not have survived in a world that was constantly trying to kill it. Fear and courage are brothers.

Ironically Fear has much to do with my recovery as does Faith. Courage does not mean the absence of Fear but the willingness to place faith in our ability to rise above it. I fear a return to alcoholism and suffering but know that faith and courage provides the safe harbour from the storm that rages around me.

“This battle is inevitable. You can stand by your beliefs but let us stand by ours.” – Anakin Skywalker

Courageous

Star Wars is a saga of trials, tragedy, loss, hope, struggle, and redemption. The virtue that pervades the story is courage. Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are idolised as morally virtuous characters because they repeatedly showed courage in the face of fear and evil . Han Solo despite his faults and shortcomings showed amazing courage and was willing to sacrifice his own safety for the ones he cared for. Each of these characters had their own fears and doubts but they overcame them and did what was needed despite every reason to seek safety and refuge.

What good is a reward if you ain’t around to use it? Besides, attacking that battle station is not my idea of courage. It’s more like, suicide.” – Han Solo

The “Heroes Journey” is an act of courage. Courage is what differentiates the mere traveller to the hero on the journey of life. One simply follows the path and arriving at challenges and obstacles chooses to turn back, stay put or go around because of fear. The traveller is not necessarily a coward, he simply lacks courage and will stick to what is familiar, safe, and expedient. The Hero on the other hand overcomes his fear by confronting the challenge head on at the expense of what is safe, secure, and expedient. Through that act the Hero is elevated from one level to another.

“The Force may not have a Light or Dark Side, but we do… and we must choose.” – Luke Skywalker

Rising Above

To show courage:

  • Choose to act, despite the fear. Answer the call to adventure whatever it might be.
  • Follow your heart despite the risks and the naysayers who tell you to abandon your dreams.
  • Persevere in the face of adversity, keeping your eye on the prize. Keep going and never give up.
  • Stand up for what is right to you. Speak up!
  • Face the unknown. Embrace the suck. Eschew comfort and familiarity. Welcome adversity as an opportunity.
  • Face suffering with acceptance and equanimity. Say “This too shall pass”. Mean it whatever your concept of Faith.

Through the catharsis of suffering the Hero has gained where the traveler has not.  By falling, failing, and then persevering through one challenge after another the Hero lives the virtue of courage. It is through these efforts that the Hero achieves her goals and returns home transformed.

Over the next seven days explore your fears and how you can use courage to overcome them. Remember that reality is divided into the things that we can control versus those that we have partial or no control over. In life you have very little control over the things that are external to you. You do control how you perceive those things which harm you. This is an invitation for you to ask your fears to come out and play.

You know why you are here and why you are here. Your mountain is there in front of you waiting to be conquered. Only fear holds you back. The challenge is on you. Only you can muster the courage to go out and get what you want. Have courage and send your fears packing.

Independence Day

To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light, or darkness. Be a candle, or the night.” – Yoda, Dark Rendezvous

“We shall not go in to the night” – William Shakespeare “Henry V”

Every person shines their own light. The goodness within them, the eternal love that exists resides within like a flame. That inner flame is life, truth and redemption with who we truly are.

At times the light burns brightly and at other times it flickers. Some times the flame is buffeted by the winds of life but still it burns. It may be reduced to the tiniest of flames in our darkest times but it still burns waiting to be kindled with new Faith and Hope.

Recovery is also that flame. It is fed by the daily acts that we do to ensure our sobriety, our thoughts and our words. Evert choice we make either feeds or stifles that flame. As it burns brightly with our spiritual condition the shadow of addiction retreats. Our path forward is guided by that Light. We can share it with others.

To give up all hope and to lose all faith is to surrender to the darkness, to accept the final fall and to go in to the night.

Never give in to the Dark Side.

Who can forget Bill Pullman as the President in the movie “Independence Day”?

The Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night!”

This was probably the most memorable moment in the movie. Against all odds the President rallies the nation and the world to fight. At that moment the story turns to hope and resolve. The flame burns bright and refuses to go out.

So it is with recovery. Keep the flame alive, hold the light and share it. Celebrate this Fourth of July. For unity and for recovery.

Happy Independence Day

 

Accountability

It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.” – Moral (Clone Wars: Storm Over Ryloth)

 

To err is to human to forgive is divine. But are you accountable for your mistakes? Do you inspire people or do you let your ego lay blame elsewhere?

 

The Human Condition

Today there is an accountability crisis. People avoid being held accountable for their actions. When they do or say something wrong, they avoid taking ownership. Blame is allocated elsewhere. Fault can always be assigned. The status of “victim” or a person’s identity can be used to excuse the behaviour or justify it.

 

We live in a world where the consequence for bad behaviour and poor performance are routinely avoided, argued away, and dismissed.

 

This should not be the way. When a mistake is made, we should owe up to it and commit to doing better. If at fault, we should accept it and the consequences that it carries. We should learn from our mistake and use it to avoid a repeat. You can own your feeling and mistakes.

 

In the end, cowards are those who follow the dark side.” – Yoda

 

You are not a Mistake

No one is perfect. At times everyone thinks, says, and acts in ways that they are ashamed of or regret. By being accountable we learn to accept that we are only human and have the right to make mistakes and learn from them. We learn that we made mistakes, we are not a mistake.

 

By making mistakes we build a value system from an early age. We earn our place in the family unit, social group, community, and society by being accountable. Being accountable is to be a social creature made to work with others, a human being.

 

You are responsible, Ahsoka. These men are depending on you, and this time, so am I” – Anakin

 

Making Amends

Alcoholics have an accountability problem. Everyone knows this. It came with the territory. The last person an alcoholic will blame for the mess they have created is themselves. The act of choosing to drink is a failure of accountability because we know where the drink leads. Money that was needed for food is spent on booze, time better spent elsewhere is lost in a bar. We disappoint and hurt family, close friends, associates, employers and partners.

 

Through alcoholism we leave a trail of broken hearts and dreams behind us. We fail to acknowledge the harm we have caused to others and to ourselves. Facing reality we seek someone else to blame, a scapegoat but deep inside we know we are the cause of our problems.

 

Recovery is futile without taking action to make amends for the harm we have caused others. Without accepting accountability for our faults and mistakes we leave a dark shadow on our soul and eventually we return to drink.

 

If you make decisions out of fear you are more likely to be wrong” – Ahsoka Tano

 

Owning it

So why is it so hard for so many people today to face mistakes, own feelings, admit wrong, apologise to others, and make amends? It all boils down to ego and personal values. The Jedi and Sith provide a analogy:

 

A Jedi is fundamentally different from a Sith in that she will always be accountable for her conduct. This is because a Jedi is self-reliant, self-assured, and grounded enough to know that shirking accountability and blaming others betrays their inner system of values. Most of all it hurts others as well as themselves.

 

A Jedi is gracious enough to quickly admit a mistake, seek to make amends and resolve not to do it again. A strong sense of self and self-discipline will help turn out thoughts of denial, blame, resentment, and self-pity.

 

A Sith by comparison is a narcissist who is unable to show and feel empathy. They display a grandiose disregard for others and care only for themselves. A Sith is never at fault, other people are the problem, not they. Mistakes are never made unless they are caused by others. Blame is always deflected. Where a Sith perceives a wrong done, he will seek restitution or revenge.

 

Being narcissistic, a Sith personality will fly into rage and will bully, threaten, and accuse others of wrong. The Sith relish in the failings of others and use it to prop their egos up.

 

The Sith, like narcissists everywhere are weak and fragile self-loathing people who hide their true selves by projecting their faults on to others. They instil fear, anxiety, and self-doubt in other people so that they can maintain a level of control. The chaos and insecurity they create is debilitating to those around them.

 

You don’t have to carry a sword to be powerful. Some leaders’ strength is inspiring greatness in others.” – Ahsoka Tano

 

Own it or be Owned

There is a Jedi in all of us and there is also a little bit of the Sith. The next time you find yourself on shaky ground after an emotional outburst or a mistake will you own it, or will you be like a Sith and refuse to take the blame?

 

Will you work on being accountable and set an example to others and make amends?

 

Will you inspire fear or greatness? Do you let your ego or humility step forward?

 

That is your choice.

 

Harmony

There is no Chaos; there is Harmony” – Jedi Code

The underlying message of the mantra “There is no Chaos; there is Harmony” is perception. At times everything around us seems in utter chaos. Thoughts and emotions can run amok and cause us to act in ways that we later regret. The way you respond to things out of your control remains within the power of your control.

 

We can control our lives by controlling our perceptions.” – Bruce H. Lipton

 

For a recovering alcoholic, the progression of the disease is like being caught in a whirlwind. It is nothing less than pure chaos, a type of hell or nightmare in which we have no control. The only way out ironically is to accept, admit and surrender, there lies the keys to freedom.

 

Whatever has been said about Darth Vader it can never be said that he was an agent of Chaos. Darth Vader was to the extreme a controller, he wanted to rule the universe and control the Force. In the end he was little more than a slave to Darth Sidious who was chaos himself.

 

Sheev Palpatine was a megalomaniac, a narcissist with a colossal ego who thrived on chaos, deception and manipulation to control others. Not that different to a functioning alcoholic, Palpatine was drunk on the power of the Dark Side. Control was maintained by perpetuating disharmony through fear.

 

Chaos, like Palpatine, was my master and I know her well. She was a cruel mistress but she promised me joy, power, confidence and popularity. She made me feel like a king and allowed me to feel alive and free. Once I was hooked she made me a slave and I could not live without her. She made me lie, steal, cheat, fight and disgrace myself over and over again. She challenged me to leave and then would punish me severely when I returned. I rode on this merry-go round from hell for over 20 years and tried many times to get off but could not until she took me to a very dark place and that’s where I found my way out. The grace of a a higher power.

 

You can choose Chaos or Harmony. That is in your control.

 

“Your perspective is always limited by how much you know. Expand your knowledge and you will transform your mind.” – Bruce H. Lipton

 

We know that the world can seem chaotic yet viewed from a distance the planet appears in order, calm and peaceful, in harmony. Even if your world seems to be falling apart there is more working in the world than not. The water, electricity and telecommunications systems are still running. There is still food on supermarket shelves. Harmony resides behind the chaos.

 

Whether in full glory or behind a mask of clouds, the sun will rise in the morning. Harmony cannot exist without chaos no more than day can exist without night. The sun never really rises, and it never sets, that is only a perception. Yet we do not feel the world turning beneath our feet.

 

Our beliefs control our bodies, our minds, and thus our lives…” – Bruce H. Lipton

 

When we center ourselves and look at a situation outside of the lens of our own reactivity it often looks very different. To paraphrase Epictetus, “it is not the thing that harms us but our perception of it”. Chaos exists within you but so does harmony.

 

By grounding yourself you can sort through the chaos and find inner harmony. The world may fall apart but that does not mean that it should also cause your mind to do the same. You have a choice how to perceive a thing and how to respond to it.

 

Buddha stated that in fact there is nothing. Nothing we perceive is as it appears. Everything is an illusion. Yoda tried to explain this to Luke Skywalker and demonstrated that power when he lifted the X-Wing out of the swamp on Dagobah with his mind.

 

What quantum physics teaches us is that everything we thought was physical is not physical.” – Bruce H. Lipton

 

Quantum physics demonstrates how little we understand matter and energy. All matter is in fact packets of energy and essentially comprised of nothing. This sub-particle concept is incredibly mind-boggling but illuminating. Consider that an electron can exist in two different points in the Universe, at the same time. It can be here and there at the same time. Chaos and harmony are in balance at the cosmic and at the particle level.

 

Our goal is to live in harmony with others, the environment and ourselves. By achieving harmony with the inner and outer environment we come to be in harmony with our higher self.

 

Our very cells respond to our thoughts. A mind that resides in chaos and disharmony affects the body at the physiological and DNA level. The community, nature and health of the individual are affected. When we are in a balanced a state of harmony allows for the body, community and nature to heal itself and function.

 

human beings have a great capacity for sticking to false beliefs with great passion and tenacity,” – Bruce H. Lipton

 

Giving up false beliefs, becoming honest and pouring passion and tenacity into recovery is what brings contended sobriety to the suffering alcoholic. The formula works wherever disharmony exists.

 

The world is in the current mess because humanity is in disharmony with itself and with nature. Our species has forgotten that we are a part of nature and not separated from it. We share a common fate because all is ultimately connected. Once we find that connection with nature and live in harmony with it, the balance can be restored and the world can recover.

 

When Yoda said “we are luminous beings, not this crude matter” I believe that George Lucas was alluding to this convergence between science and the spiritual. The interconnectedness of all things defines the Force. Harmony cannot exist without chaos. The Force binds everything together and pervades everything like the Tao. Where chaos and harmony meet and balance, we find Infinite Love. Is Life, the cosmos, not both after all? It is a perfect union of chaos and harmony.

 

“Nature is based on harmony. So it says if we want to survive and become more like nature, then we actually have to understand that it’s cooperation versus competition.” – Bruce H. Lipton

 

To ground yourself be mindful of your thoughts and emotions by regularly checking in on them. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now”. Observe, impartially, the emotions that stir within you. Explore them with a curious mind without becoming attached to them as if observing them from a distance.

 

Observe your thoughts in the same way; ask “What am I thinking right now?” Dissect your thoughts without judgement resisting the urge to attach to them. You only need to decide if they are reasoned and serve you. Let go what doesn’t.

 

Anytime you feel yourself disconnected stop for a moment. Just breathe focusing on the air entering and leaving your lungs. Close your eyes if you wish. Open them and look around. Feel the earth beneath your feet. Open your senses to the world. Seek out nature whenever you can. The natural world will centre you and restore harmony. Be at peace, calm, passive in the world.

 

Watch the full episode with Dr. Bruce Lipton for FREE: https://londonreal.tv/dr-bruce-lipton…

 

Routine

So you want to be a Jedi” – Yoda

Do. Or do not. There is not try” – Yoda

 

So you want to be a Jedi?

Life is hard and so is being Jedi. The Jedi Code, doing daily practices, applying principles and proactively working on self-improvement all take effort. Change was never meant to be easy. It can be damn hard. Sometimes it can take everything you have.

 

But he still has much to learn. And his abilities have made him…well… arrogant. I realise now what you and Master Yoda knew from the beginning… the boy was to old to start the training” – Obi-wan Kenobi

 

The Jedi had a training program which included years of Temple Study in Lore, Ethics, History and Diplomacy as well as intense physical and martial arts training. There were long hours of meditation and Lightsaber practice. The Jedi student was assigned to a Jedi Knight who acted as mentor and teacher. The apprenticeship lasted until the Padawan was ready to be a Jedi.

There were dangerous trials the Jedi student had to pass. Rigorous training then continued between missions. The Jedi rose in rank as they demonstrated mastery and skill. A Jedi also knew that despite years of dedicated training they had not learned everything there was to know.

 

I’m ready for the trials. I know I am! He knows it too. He believes I’m too unpredictable…Other Jedi my age have gone through the trials and made it..I know I started my training late… but he won’t let me move on.” – Anakin

 

Master self first..

Sometime we get ahead of ourselves and claim full knowledge and mastery before we are ready. We don’t know everything, and we never will. There is always more to learn, even the wisest and most experienced Jedi Master never stops learning. To claim “complete mastery” over any subject and announce that there is nothing more to learn is fool hardy at best, dangerous at worst.

So how do we approach our training? A good first step is to create and maintain a routine which will ensure that you stay on path in your journey to competency and after many decades, perhaps mastery.

 

Form Habits

This journal can serve as one small act done daily forming a routine and a habit. As a Jedi we should be doing our daily practices daily. This means every day, without fail, no excuses (unless you are too ill to move). We exercise, meditate, apply mindfulness in our interactions with the world, practice diplomacy and demonstrate self-discipline every day. Unless you incorporate the practices into some sort of routine you will fall well short of the mark.

Former US Navy SEAL Jocko Willinck has a daily routine that most people would find insane if not impossible. It  starts at 04:30 usually with a run and an intense workout. Willinck posts a photo of his watch to Instagram when he gets out of bed then sometime later there will be a photo of gym equipment or a sweat puddle on the floor.

“Real life Jedi” like Jocko Willink and David Goggins have realised that the secret to success and achieving goals is creating a routine and sticking to it no matter what. This take commitment, sacrifice and self discipline.  Hard work and an unbeatable mindset is built on a solid routine.

 

Routines

My daily routine is nothing like Jocko Willicks, its a simple one, but it does take effort. The benefits cannot be understated. Very often what we most need is a routine and a set of goals to work towards. The best way to set goals is to break them down. With simple and achievable targets that challenge you, you will progress. Over time you ratchet up the effort a little. Always start slow but be consistent and work to improve.

My daily routine comprises of practices I have adopted from the Jedi Path and the Stoics and adapted to my needs. Feel free to come up with your own program and stick to it for a while, then modify if required to suit your lifestyle, limitations and needs.

 

Morning

On rising, practice a short period of gratitude. Remind yourself of one or two or more things you are grateful for as you come into this day. Record them in the journal. This will put you on a good grounding. Avoid jumping straight on to your social media account to check missed posts and likes. Start with a fresh mind.

Welcome the day. A new day means new opportunity. Be thankful for it. Every morning try to greet the sunrise in its splendour. Otherwise take a quiet moment and imagine the sun coming up over the horizon. Take a moment to contemplate the grand scale of the cosmos and infinite time. Try to remember that this day is unique and will never be repeated. You only get one shot at it. You can take this time to meditate for 15-30 minutes if you prefer to meditate in the morning.

Spend a moment in contemplation. You can journal your thoughts on any topic or on the Jedi quote provided for the day. Grab a mental theme for the day. It can be anything taken from a quote, a line from a book or your own inspiration. Set in your mind or on paper three things you aim to achieve today and work towards it.

Consider the things that may go wrong. Remind yourself that through the day you will encounter people who are rude and obstinate, that your plans may get derailed. Tell yourself you will face obstacles and difficulties and how you react will reflect on you. Resolve not to let the things you cannot control affect you in negative ways.

 

During the Day

You will apply diplomacy and mindfulness throughout the day frequently checking in your inner world by simply asking yourself “How am I feeling right now? What am I thinking about?”.

Take time out from your responsibilities to simply focus on the breath. Go for a walk and notice things around you, the sky, trees, birds and people. Take the time to really notice the taste of your food and drink rather than scoffing it down mindlessly. Spend some time surrounded by nature each day, even its it’s only the local park. Enjoy a moment of solitude and silence if you can find it.

Do one act of kindness, a service, every day for someone. It can be anything, random or predetermined; an offer of assistance or help to someone struggling with a load, giving up your seat on the bus to someone who needs it more, a simple courtesy such as opening the door. A smile or kind word or an act of charity.

Deny yourself something nice or practice some form of denial to remind myself not to get too attached to comforts and ease. I practice periodic intermittent fasting on occasion. In addition to reminding myself that food is a precious resource not to be taken for granted I find that occasional fasting makes me feel better (Check with your Doctor before intermittent fasting). I may decide to leave my jacket at home on a cold day. Run the occasional cold shower! Sleep on the floor occasionally if you are adventurous.

Take a moment to undertake negative visualisation. Consider a realistic scenario that might occur which could ultimately change your life or at least make it unpleasant. This could include ill health, unemployment, poverty, ridicule or hate from others, betrayal by friends or colleagues. This should be done without attaching emotion. Imagine you are watching it play out in a movie. See yourself dealing with the situation and overcoming it; visualise yourself practising acceptance and equanimity.

Do at least 30 minutes of exercise or physical training (this can also be in the morning or evening). The type of physical training you do will vary and depend on your own preference and limitations. You may practice martial arts, play sports, hit the gym or CrossFit Box, swim, surf or run. Remember to have rest days to avoid over training (Stretch / Yoga on off days). However, do some form of physical activity every day even if it is only a short walk or some light stretching.

 

Evening

Spend at least 20 minutes in meditation (this can also be during the day or in the morning). Review the day, what went right, what went wrong and consider how you can improve. Journal your thoughts. Take some quiet time to relax and enjoy your free time any way you like. Thank the Force for another day.

 

I want to be a Jedi, like my Father” – Luke Skywalker

 

Do you still want to be a Jedi?

Self Discipline is the key to a healthy and productive routine that achieves outcomes. The only person who is accountable to it is you. No one is going to force you to do this. There is no Jedi Knight pushing you to excel yourself. Yoda is not admonishing you to “Do. Or do not. There is no try“. You will have to be the one who does that.

When Jocko Willink would enter a debrief room to give orders for a mission his Team Members would hum the “Imperial March” from Star Wars. They knew the more satisfied Jocko looked  the tougher the mission was going to be. You wouldn’t want someone like Jocko Willink getting you out of bed to run 10 miles every at 04:30 every morning before a gruelling workout in the grinder would you? You know its going to hurt real bad. The next less painful way is for you to do it yourself.

 

 

Not every one can be as hard core as Willink or become a Jedi. You can still aim high but forget about achieving perfect practice. Perfection is an ideal. In the real world we can only do our best. There will be days you will skip the routine, days when you are too tired or don’t feel like it. These are the days that will best demonstrate where your commitment is and how far you have come on the journey. Every moment you have a choice. Keep Yoda on your back and the mantra “Do. Or do not. There is no try” in your head, it’ll help. I guarantee it.

 

Further Reading

A day in the life of a retired Navy SEAL commander, MMA coach, podcaster, author , success coach and entrepreneur Jocko Willink:

Jocko Daily Schedule

Jocko Workout Philosophy

 

Resolve

Credit: Lucas Films Ltd

 

I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father” – Luke Skywalker ( A New Hope)

 

In a tragic scene which has become one of the most iconic in cinematic history Luke discovers his Uncle and Aunt murdered by the Empire, their bodies outside the ruins of their homestead. Grief quickly turns to fear and hate and in that dark place he finds his resolve and answers the call to adventure.

 

In order to change we must have resolve. We cannot rely solely on others and must be active in our own transformation. Others can act as guides, mentor or coaches but you are the author of your own change. You are the protagonist in your own “Hero’s Journey”.

 

Once you have decided to do something it is important to clarify in your mind why you are doing it. We are often tempted to pursue a new goal and set off before we are prepared or even willing. New year’s resolutions are an example. We give ourselves an ultimatum to change and improve our lives but fail to commit. We lack resolve. As a result we stumble aimlessly forward without a well-defined plan or even any objective. We then falter and abandon the prize we had set ourselves. A goal should always be articulated in a way that it defines the “why” and “what” you are trying to achieve before racing off to achieve it.

 

A study conducted through Scranton University and reported in the Journal of Substance Abuse found that only 19 percent of individuals follow through with New Year’s Resolutions. The main reason is resolutions fail is because they lack the resolve, the commitment and the “why”.  The main reasons alcoholics and other addicts fail to recover is because they fail to admit they have a problem in the first place. Change is the desire but desire alone is not usually going to get you far. Resolve and commitment will.

 

The transtheoretical model of behaviour change states here are six stages people go through on their journey to recovery. This is equally applied to any change in pattern or behaviour that requires concerted effort and commitment.

 

  1. Precontemplation: Denial of a problem contrary to the opinion of others and apparent evidence.
  2. Contemplation: Admission of a problem. Exploration of the costs and benefits of change.
  3. Preparation: You become mentally prepared to change through acceptance.  Surrendering to the process.
  4. Action: Doing the Work. Demonstrating the change you wish to see  even if you have to “fake it till you make it”.
  5. Maintenance: Taking steps every day to ensure that the change becomes embedded over time.

 

Relapse is the sixth stage. Almost everyone who has attempted a change has slipped in to old habits or suffered a setback.  True failure is quitting while there is still the chance to continue on the journey. On the path to being Jedi you will meet many obstacles and challenges. The temptation to fall off the path and quit will sometimes be greater than the effort required to pick yourself up and stay the course. Relapse should not be seen as a failure unless it is terminal.

 

If you had zero problems in your life and everything was perfect there would have no reason to change anything and no point in being here. Likewise if you are not ready to admit you have a problem or are not fully prepared and committed to change then the change you seek will not happen. No magical date will change that. Whether you start on January 1 or any other day makes no difference if you do not have the resolve to start with.

 

So why are you here? Why Jedi Philosophy? What are you seeking to change or improve about yourself? Do you really want to change or does the idea appeal to you more than the work? If you can arrive at answers to these questions then you admit you have a problem and are willing to change. You resolve to improve. Preparation and action usually follows.  For some people this may be self-evident, for others it may be harder to define or articulate. Often it’s easier to keep it simple.

 

Write down one thing you would change about yourself this very moment. Then ask yourself “Why” five times writing down the answer that comes to mind under each line. Dig deep to get to the “Why” to uncover hidden emotions and motivations and become more self-aware. I had a deep seated habit of catastrophic thinking. This affected my relationships and I needed to address it. In the end I had to confront that the way I reacted to adversity was essentially based on fear of punishment or loss that stemmed from a traumatic childhood.

 

What do I want to change?

I want to stop over reacting

Why?

Because it makes me anxious and upset.

Why?

Because I think the worst possible outcome.

Why?

Because I have no control.

Why?

Because I let the fear and anger dictate my reactions.

 

What upset me was not the problems I faced but how I perceived them. I can choose to allow every single bump on the road trip me up or I can accept that things will not always go as I plan. I can decide not to let it affect me that way. The reason I needed to change was because my behaviour was affecting my relationships. I wanted to achieve a higher degree of peace and serenity responding to life in a mindful way rather than reacting to it. By conceptualising it that way I became more invested in addressing that fault and more willing to change.

 

Without having resolve, change is unlikely to be enduring or meaningful, “half measures avail us nothing”. You need to care passionately about the goal and be single-minded about it giving it the focus it deserves. Accept the odds and don’t let people dictate them to you. Have a plan in mind and a destination but do not cling to either as plans change and goals may be unattainable. You need to accept that change is not easy and must be prepared to endure the obstacles, challenges and setbacks that will get in your way.

 

In order to start on the Hero’s Journey, you need to accept your call to adventure. You need to leave the “Ordinary World” behind. To do that you need a reason to be here. You need to answer with full conviction the “Why”. You need to have Jedi Resolve and be prepared to change despite the part of you that fears change and resists. This is your “call to adventure”. Do you answer that call as Luke did?