Let The Past Die (Kill It If You Have To)…
Have you ever been told you need to be more present? Or that you’re too focused on the past? The past can carry positive emotions but for many artists, it can carry its baggage as well. It is through the lens of these negative emotions that we then begin to project what the future holds for us. This is bad because it makes us worry and stress, all the while taking us away from the present moment. The present, as many leaders, gurus and so on have stated, is all we have and where we must put our energy. In today’s lesson, I (Phil Svitek) will examine the effects of so-called time traveling has on our minds and bodies which is way more severe than you might think. More importantly though, I’ll provide solutions to stay more present and create the future you want. I’ll cite people such as Dr. Gabor Mate, Dr. Joe Dispenza (author of Breaking the Habit and Becoming Supernatural), Alice Miller (author of The Body Never Lies) and creative coach Mark McGuinness. Plus, the simplest advice will come from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (Can you guess what it might be???) I’m excited to see the results you’ll have once you start applying some of these very simple techniques. Comment below with thoughts, opinions, personal experiences, questions, etc.
Joe Dispenza Website: https://drjoedispenza.com/
Gabor Mate Website: https://drgabormate.com/
The Body Never Lies Book: https://www.amazon.com/Body-Never-Lies-Lingering-Parenting/dp/0393328635
AfterBuzz Contact Page: http://www.afterbuzztv.com/contact-faq/#toggle-id-18
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Greetings to you fellow content creator! It’s wonderful to have you for today’s lesson where it’s my aim to help you master mental fortitude, because as I’ve learned firsthand, in order to be successful, it takes more than technical skills.
I want to begin by asking you if you’ve ever been told you need to be more present? Or that you’re too focused on the past? I know I have all too often. The past can carry positive emotions but for many artists, it can carry its baggage as well. It is through the lens of these negative emotions that we then begin to project what the future holds for us. This is bad because it makes us worry and stress, all the while taking us away from the present moment. The present, as many leaders, gurus and so on have stated, is all we have and where we must put our energy.
Let’s first examine how time traveling in our minds to the past can be detrimental to understand the full scope of the severities, before I offer you a solution to overcome this problem.
In June 2017, my former boss and very dear friend Maria Menounos underwent a risky brain surgery to remove a benign brain tumor, which ended up being the size of a golf ball. Luckily, the surgery was a success and she has continued to recover well. But getting the brain tumor made her and her family have some deep and meaningful conversations. One of the conclusions was that “stress is a killer.”
For them that phrase was anecdotal when they came up with it, but there is scientific evidence to support it, which I’ll highlight in a bit. But before we get to it, just ask yourself, doesn’t that make sense? Have you ever gotten a headache from stress? Does your body feel good while you’re stressed? Are you at your most creative when you’re stressed?
I’m certainly not. I’m at my worst. So much so that I used to even lash out at the people closest to me. I’d yell at them nonstop until they either felt as bad as me or left. I realize now that I wanted them to suffer alongside me, a fact I’m definitely not proud to admit. But I say it to illustrate how damaging stress can be, and also to showcase that once you start recognizing patterns within yourself, you can alter them.
Unfortunately, stress has far worse effects than this. It can lead to depression and physical ailments. All you have to do is take a look at suicide rates and cancer rates over the past decades to see a rising number in both.
Last week I spoke with creative coach Mark McGuinness where we talked about the mindset required of an artist in the 21st century. He often points to Charles Dickens’ opening lines from A Tale of Two Cities which goes – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” That sentence shows the dual nature of the world we live in. There are so many things to be excited about, but there are so many aspects that demand our attention wherever we look or go. Just consider the idea that by having email on your phone, you can literally work from anywhere at anytime. Which means clients, coworkers, bosses, can email you 24/7 and will often expect a fast response, even if it’s in the middle of the night. This is one example of the stress we endure.
The world is changing so quickly that we haven’t defined all the healthy social norms for ourselves and furthermore, we haven’t stopped to wonder what’s best for us. I know I haven’t in the past. Especially as Americans, we’re constantly reminded of hard work and sacrifice as a necessary measure of getting ahead. Otherwise, you’re lazy. I used to feel so guilty whenever I wasn’t working that I’d often times panic. I was miserable to be around during social events and I also felt a physical effect in myself. I know this because I would get sick easily multiple times a year. It was a sign that my immune system was weakened. And even when I slept enough hours a night, it didn’t cut it. I had too much stress.
Mark McGuinness says, “we as artists give our heart and our soul to our work that sometimes then we need to work on our heart and our soul.” I think he’s right.
At this point you may understand the severity of stress, but you may be wondering how stress relates to thinking about the past? Fair question.
Stress is emotionally charged and past experiences create and solidify those emotional charges. Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of books like Becoming Supernatural and Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, says, “A memory without the emotional charge is called wisdom.” Often times we react to external forces because of our unconscious or subconscious memories. Heck, some of us react based on our conscious thoughts of past traumas. By doing this, we’re attributing past outcomes to future results. The past can’t properly dictate the future. We’re not accounting for the changes within us or the outside world.
When I became stressed I was reminded of past moments. I drew parallels that weren’t true. This is what happens when we focus on the past too much.
Now this can work in reverse too. You can have so many good memories from your past, let’s say a high school athlete at the peak of his prime, who is now middle aged and all he can think about is those glory days. Comparing the two situations brings about sadness as if he had lost something. That’s stress.
When we become stressed we often will seek escape – that can be sex, drugs, gambling, social media, you name it. For me it was sleep and movies. When I slept, it felt like I shut off the world. And movies provided a window into other lives in which most cases I knew would turn out good in the end. Probably why I have a propensity towards comedies and had to force myself to see the so-called “Oscar-contenders”. Those movies were more of a downer than anything else, especially if you consider Blackkklansman, Vice, The Favorite and A Star Is Born, etc.
Stress pushes us to make choices we wouldn’t normally make even if it’s as simple as pouring yourself a glass of wine at the end of a long day of work. There’s a difference between doing so because of pleasure vs relief.
What’s really messed up, and how stress really ties into our past, is that we began feeling this stress before we were even born.
How does this happen? To explain, let me paraphrase Dr. Gabor Maté who is a Canadian physician with a background in family practice and a special interest in childhood development and trauma, and children’s potential lifelong impacts from physical and mental health. Again, paraphrasing, here’s what he has to say. Multiple studies internationally show that the emotional states of the mother while she’s carrying the child is already affecting the brain development of the child. The more stressed women are, the more that affects the nervous system of the baby. If the environment is nurturing, supportive in all the necessary ways, the baby will have a healthy brain development. But if that nurturing and that support is withheld from the baby because our parent’s stresses, their traumas, their business, their relationship issues or perhaps just the external conditions like racism, poverty, or war, then most parents are not able to give the baby the nurturing and attention they require. Under those conditions, the brain doesn’t develop quite as well as it should. And now if you ask why in North America there are so many more being diagnosed with ADHD to Autism to anxiety, depression, learning difficulties, and so on. It’s because social conditions more and more undermined parent’s capacity to be there for their kids. And so we’re actually negatively affecting the brain development of millions of children through social dynamics that has nothing to do with the parent’s best intentions or their love for their child. There’s no recollection of memories when you’re one year old but the emotional memories engrave themselves in the brain and the body.
The last part is key. Our memories engrave themselves in our body whether we know it or not. Certainly Maria Menounos didn’t know all the stress and trauma she was carrying. But her body did. It caused her to develop that golf sized brain tumor, which luckily as I mentioned earlier was benign. Stress really is a killer and not to be taken lightly.
Are you convinced of it yet? If you’re not, you should definitely read more of Joe Dispenza’s and Gabor Mate’s books. Even psychologist Alice Miller thinks similarly. Her notion is that the body never lies. Me getting sick was a byproduct of stress. It was my traumas coming to fruition no different that Maria’s tumor was for her.
So how do we counteract these affects? It’s not like we can actually time travel and get rid of our stresses or provide our parents with a better environment for raising us. Although, this is precisely the reason we must fight for extended maternity leave for both men and women in the US. I think it’s absolute bullshit this doesn’t exist and shows the short term thinking of most companies rather than wanting to create and reward employee loyalty. I digress and I’m sorry, but it’s important to at least mention.
The answer to this question of releasing our emotional baggage is –
“Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.”
That’s from the latest Star Wars, which I know is a controversial film and I’m taking the quote a little out of context, but it does apply in this case. The past is useless to us. We need to remember the skills and lessons, but let go of the emotion. The less you think back on the past, the better off you’ll be.
I know, I know. It’s a task easier said than done, particularly when the emotional memories are subconscious. Shit, I had a hard time forgetting some past moments while writing this lesson. But make a conscious effort to not do it. Forget the past. As I said, the past can’t predict the future so don’t let it. In a way, it makes you envy people with amnesia, doesn’t it? We shouldn’t, but you get the spirit of the idea.
How do you really forget the past though? Maybe you can’t. Instead, reshift your focus. Joe Dispenza advocates a practice of 10 minute meditation where you do two things. One, you visualize all the things your grateful for and two you picture all the things you want to accomplish. It’s something you may have heard many times throughout your life but the power of manifesting something via practice can actually be quite powerful. Whether you do it in the morning, afternoon or at night doesn’t really matter. But do it. Take the time to relax yourself and your body and go into a state of appreciation and identify the projects you want to accomplish. More importantly, what will it feel like when you do. This is key. Assign these goals an emotion. The emotions you envision in your head will begin to replace the old predetermined ones. That’s a strength beyond measure.
Joe Dispenza asks, “Can you accept the notion that once you change your internal state, you don’t need the external world to provide you with a reason to feel joy, gratitude, appreciation, or any other elevated emotion?”
Well… can you change your internal state? Of course you can. The question is will you! Will you take this advice and run with it? For your sake, I hope you do. Every day I get better and better at this practice. I make a conscious effort to decide where I’m going and what’s meaningful to me.
See, that’s the other thing. People always want to know their purpose. Forget that too. What brings you meaning? That’s what you need to be asking. Through this simple 10 minute meditation, you can explore that. Mediation is really easy. It’s really about focusing your mind on what’s important. It’s about taking time for yourself each and every day. It can counteract all the negative effects I’ve harped on earlier. But they must be replaced with something new. So put in the work. What do you want? What brings you joy? What fills your soul? Be as grand and specific as you can be. I feel like fear sets in because it’s some supposed logical part of us telling us reasons why something can’t happen. Fuck it. Through this exercise, picture what you want and start seeing the ways in which to make that happen. Sure, it’ll be hard work. But isn’t it work you’ll enjoy doing? If it’s not, it might not be truly what you want.
Now, there may be a part of you that’s willing to accept all this but another part is saying that as a creative you need to be able to tap into the human experience in its rawest form in order to convey a deep universal truth. Well, I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive. It’s where journaling comes in. Journaling allows you to record your thoughts from any given moment so you can revisit it anytime and draw from it for your work. I do it all the time thanks to videos I made in the past. But only visit the past for creative insights, not to stress yourself. Whenever you visit the past, have a clear cut goal in mind. Why are you thinking back to that memory and what do you want to gain by revisiting it? If the answer is to just make yourself think back to happier times or perhaps you’re doing it unknowingly, then it’s not a good enough reason. Forget it. Kill it if you must.
Don’t allow your unaware mind to drive your actions like they did with me when I yelled at those around me. Take control back of your life by creating a vision of what you want. By doing this, you’ll be more aware of your present actions. You’ll be able to judge them and determine if they’re in line with your belief system or not. Do they serve a purpose, or is it an involuntary response.
Don’t take this lightly. Stress, as Maria and her family have said, is a killer. You may be at a place in time where it’s not affecting you that much. But in time it will. And it all stems from your memories and the emotions you’re holding onto. Let go of them by assigning new ones and an exciting path for yourself.
For full clarity though, I’m not advocating to forget the injustices we or our ancestors have caused. America has a huge history of violence. What I’m proposing is to use the power of thought and ambition to create a better today and tomorrow.
I appreciate you listening to this lesson and hope that it will benefit you. Before I wrap out I want to give you a quick practical tip anyone can use and also let you know about a contest I’m holding for the next month.
First, the quick tip. Whenever you’re on social media, no matter which one, comment on any post you see. It will eliminate any sense of jealousy you may feel towards the person, whether knowingly or unknowingly. It’s a trick I learned by listening to Ellen Hendrickson who is an expert on social anxiety among other things. Even if you don’t think you feel any sort of way towards a post, comment on it. It will force you to humanize the person and their post in such a way where you’ll feel connected instead of disassociated, which is how jealousy begins.
Okay, so onto the contest. I will be giving away a free copy of The Start Up J Curve book to one lucky winner. It’s written by Howard Love and was one of my favorite books that I read in 2018, so much so that I extracted lessons from it for my 15th lesson called Applying the Start-up J Curve to Your Whole Life. But even if you’ve checked out that episode, there’s so much more to learn by reading the source material. So in order to win the book, all you have to do is go to the app where you consume my lessons and rate and review. Take a screenshot of your rating and review and @PhilSvitek on Twitter. In one month, I will select a winner at random. So for what amounts to less than 3 minutes and is free to do, you can win a book that still retails for $20. I think that’s a fair trade.
Now, before you click away to another lesson of mine, here’s a few more things. For your benefit, the transcript of this episode is on my website. A link is provided so you can always review it. Leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions and what lessons you’d like to see me tackle next. The more specific you are with your questions, the better I can cater these episodes towards you. Also, you can support this show on patreon.com/philsvitek if it doesn’t burden you financially in any way. Every contribution is truly appreciated and helps defray the costs of putting on this show – which as you can imagine takes a lot of effort. If you’re new to the series and you want to be notified when future episodes release, subscribe on Apple Podcast, YouTube, Facebook, Google Podcast, Spotify or any other platform that is most convenient to you. Specific links are provided below. Should you be a new host in the LA area and are looking for opportunities, I encourage you to check out AfterBuzz TV. It’s a network I’ve been a part of that has taught me much of the things I know and has groomed some of the best hosts in the world including Alex Wehrley, Karamo Brown, Jeff Masters and hundreds of others. Plus they have a fantastic internship program for college students if you happen to be one. I’ve provided AfterBuzz TV’s contact page link in below as well. Lastly, I want to give credit where credit is due. I couldn’t do this show alone so big shout out to my producer Juliet Vibert. She works hard behind the scenes to help bring these lessons to you. To stay up to date with all the creative projects we’re doing, follow me @PhilSvitek, follow Juliet at @BonjourJuliet. Thanks for watching. I’m Phil Svitek and I’ll see you next week with a special interview with Broke Millennial herself who’ll highlight how creatives can begin investing in order to have retirement money. I can’t wait for you to listen to it. Bye for now!