DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 10 months ago
I am often asked for input on how to take control of one’s life, especially coming out of a global pandemic when many people perceive that they have had little control of their lives, health, finances, global politics.
My answer is that there are only three things you have control over in your life: your PERCEPTIONS, DECISIONS and ACTIONS.
If you can govern and manage your perceptions, make prioritized decisions and act on them, you’ll be in the process of mastering your mind and on your way to living a meaningful and purposeful life.
What distinguishes us as a human being from other species is our capacity to govern our mind and not let the outside world run us.
No matter what you experience in your life, you can change your perception of it.
John Milton once said that you can make a heaven out of a hell or a hell out of a heaven by asking certain questions that make you cognizant and aware of information you may have been unconscious of. In that way, you’re able to change your attitude towards it.
William James, the co-founder of modern psychology, once said that the greatest discovery of his generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their perceptions and attitudes of mind.
I've been doing that for decades now in my signature two-day program, the Breakthrough Experience – teaching people how to take situations in their life that they think are either terrible or terrific and transforming their perceptions so that they no longer run their life.
For example, you may recall a time when you were INFATUATED with someone. As such, you were conscious of their upsides and unconscious of their downsides.
You were also highly impulsively attracted to them and may even have found it difficult to get them out of your mind.
Perhaps you even found it hard to sleep at night with thoughts of them running around in your mind.
You may also have experienced the opposite – times when you were RESENTFUL of someone. In this case, you were conscious of their downsides and unconscious of their upsides.
You had an instinct to get away from them and may also have found it difficult to get them out of your mind.
Anything you have an imbalanced perspective of occupies space and time in your mind and run you.
In these instances, you’re more likely to be externally driven and feel out of control because you’re allowing the world on the outside to run you, instead of balancing your perceptions and mastering your life from the inside.
You’ll also tend to give power to an individual that you’re infatuated with or resentful of - a false attribution that THEY are the cause of your pleasure or pain, happiness or sadness.
The reality is that it has little to do with them and more to do with your perceptions of them, which you have control over.
As an example, you could take someone you're infatuated with and if I pointed out some of the things that you may be overlooking because you're conscious of their upsides and unconscious of their downsides, if I ask questions to help make you aware of their downsides, I can help you dampen and calm down your feelings of emotional infatuation and impulses towards them.
As a result, you’d feel less inclined to rush because you have balanced your lopsided perceptions and fantasies.
This resulting shift in your infatuation had little to do with them, because all I did was ask you a set of quality questions to help you see things you didn’t see before.
Now that you’re conscious of and can see both sides of this individual, the resulting balanced view allows you to run you, instead of having your illusionary perception of them run you.
In a perfectly balanced mind, you’re unlikely to allow outer circumstances to run you. As such, you’re no longer a victim of your circumstances but rather, you’re a master of your own life and destiny.
When you're infatuated with someone, you likely fear their loss and experience feelings of jealousy.
When you’re resentful, you likely fear their gain. As such, you develop instinctual phobias and their opposite philias/fantasies to escape.
- The philia you feel when you’re infatuated is wanting to be with the individual you infatuate with and the phobia is fearing the loss of them.
- The phobia you feel when you resent someone is fearing the gain of the individual you resent and the philia is the fantasy of escaping them.
So, the moment you’re imbalanced in your perspective, you tend to perceive that the world controls you, when in actual fact, it doesn’t.
YOU control you when you ask quality questions that help you become conscious of unconscious information and balance the associations in your brain so you can become neutral, balanced, poised, present and more in control of your decisions and actions.
That's why the forebrain, the most advanced part of the brain, specifically the medial prefrontal cortex which is also known as the executive center dampens the amygdala’s impulses and instincts.
This area of the forebrain is what governs and dampens the impulses and instincts of the more reactive, ungoverned amygdala, which resides in the less advanced subcortical brain.
If you ask quality questions, you can dampen the amplitudes of those infatuations and resentments and not let the world outside run you. Instead, you get to have self-governance and be proactive, thinking before you act, instead of living a life where you are constantly experiencing ungoverned reactions because you’re reacting before you think.
Any so called ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ event is only because you choose to make it so.
Recently at one of my Breakthrough Experience programs, I had somebody come up to me and say, 'My mother abandoned me.'
The lady who said this had been running that story for quite a while.
I asked her a simple question, ‘What did you particularly miss about your mom when she left?'
'Well,’ she said, ‘I missed having somebody be there for me, guide me, and love me unconditionally.’
I explained to her that at the level of the broader perceiving ‘soul’, nothing's missing in your life. At the level of your narrower perceiving senses, things appear to be missing. However, if you ask the right questions, you can become aware of the new forms in which those actions are emerging.
I then asked her:
- 'Which individuals guided and loved you when your mother left?
- What was the benefit of having each of them taking on those roles?
- What would have been some of the downsides should her mother have chosen to take on those roles?’
She explained to me that her aunt and grandmother had taken care of her and that she had experienced a financially stable childhood as a result.
She had also been able to finish school and had a close-knit group of friends that she met there.
I had her stack up a detailed list of benefits of having her grandmother and aunt take on a parenting role, and the drawbacks that would have continued to occur had her mom not left.
As a result, she was able to see opportunities she had not seen before, and transform what she had originally perceived to be a ‘negative’ event into something she was grateful for.
When you stop comparing your reality to an unrealistic fantasy of what you think it ‘should’ be, you are more able to appreciate your life again.
This woman wasn’t appreciating. She was blaming her mother, playing the victim, and feeling that she had missed out on something. However, nothing was actually missing. Instead, it was in a form that was actually to her advantage.
Once she cracked the fantasy and delusions about what should have/could have/would have been by asking quality questions, she was able to be grateful.
She had tears in her eyes when she realized that her mother actually liberated her for a greater opportunity than she would've had with her mom.
As such, she was able to feel gratitude and appreciation for her mom for the first time in her life.
As I so often say, anything that you're not grateful for in your life is baggage. Anything you are grateful for is fuel.
Once you neutralize your lopsided perceptions, you free yourself from the things that distract you - the impulses and instincts, animal behaviors, the seeking and avoiding – and you are able to become present and grateful because you can see both sides of every individual, event or situation.
To sum up so far, asking quality questions shows you how to change your perception. Once you change your perception, you are more likely to change your decisions.
Once you change your decisions, you are able to change your resulting behaviors and actions.
Here are a few examples of quality questions you can ask to help balance and control your perceptions.
Suppose you were to take whatever happens in your life and ask questions such as:
- ‘How is this helping me fulfill what's most meaningful to me?’
- ‘Whatever I perceive to be missing, what new form is it in?’
- ‘What’s the benefit of the new form?’
- ‘What would be the drawback of the form that I fantasize that it should have been in and that I’m angry because it wasn't?’
Once you balance your perceptions, you are able to see that no matter what happens, it's ON THE WAY and not IN THE WAY. As such, you can liberate yourself from years of emotional baggage and perceptions that you are the victim of situations outside of your control.
The Buddha is believed to have said that the desire for that which is unobtainable, the fantasies, and the desire to avoid that which is unavoidable, the nightmares, is the source of human suffering.
The fantasies and the nightmares, the heavens and the hells, the imbalanced impulses and instincts are simply lopsided perceptions that you have the capacity to change.
As I said above, you have the capacity to change your perception. You have the capacity to prioritize your actions. And you have the capacity to make the wisest decisions possible at any one moment.
You have control over your perceptions, decisions, and actions, but you DON’T have control over the outside world.
However, if you’re able to identify people’s highest values, know how to communicate in their values and say what you want in terms of their values respectfully, you can actually impact what they do in relationship to you.
So though you may not have direct control of the events outside of you, you can have indirect control by caring enough about another human being to find out what their highest values are or their dominant motive itself, and communicate what you want in terms of that.
As such, you’ll have a higher probability of making friends and influencing people, because people want to be loved for who they are. If you help them fulfill their highest value, they’ll tend to be more engaged with you, which helps you in your relationships, business, managing of people, social connections, and health and wellbeing.
So, learning and caring about another human being by finding out what their highest values are and communicating what you value in terms of what they value, allows you to have some influence on society.
When you're living by what's true for you and what's inspiring to you and you're grateful for your life, you tend to magnetize people, places, things, ideas and events into your life as opportunities. So you have more opportunities, influence, and gratitude, are more centered, and may even have a longer life because you're less distressed.
To sum up:
You have control over your perceptions, decisions, and actions.
The next time you find yourself labeling, stop and look at what actually occurred.
Practice self-reflection and ask quality questions that help you see both sides. For example:
- If you see an event as so called – positive, ask: ‘How is the experience that I’m currently perceiving have equal drawbacks to the benefits I’m perceiving?’
- If you see an event as so called – negative, ask: ‘How is the experience that I’m currently perceiving have equal benefits to the drawbacks I’m perceiving?’
When you’re accountable and see both sides, you’re empowered to do something amazing with your life. You are more likely to become a master of your destiny when you learn to stabilize your mind.
When you ask quality questions that help you change your perception, you can change your decisions and resulting actions.
It has little to do with the world outside you, and more to do with your perceptions.
Giving yourself permission to take command of your perceptions, your decisions, and your actions while also learning how to communicate in people's values makes a huge difference.
If you have a desire to have control over your life and become the master of destiny instead of victim of your history then join me for my next two-day Breakthrough Experience program so I can show you how to identify your values, live by priority, learn to delegate, structure your objectives, make sure you're not setting up fantasies for yourself, learn how to communicate more effectively, and have grounded objectives that you can meet together with strategies and plans that you can help do it.
I will also teach you the Demartini Method on how to dissolve all the emotional baggage that you may be carrying around that's running you instead of you running you.
So if you’d like to learn those quality questions to help you control the things you can control, I would love for you to join me.
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In 2 days you’ll learn how to solve any issue you are facing, transform any emotion and reset the course of your life for greater achievement and fulfillment.
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