How We Get Stopped From Finding the Work We Love

Ask Subhan…
Questioner: I just don’t know what I want to do as my career or job. Every time I get an idea, I seem to find a hundred reasons NOT to do it. Can you help me untangle this mess?
Subhan: There is a Sufi mystic named Rumi who said, “Look for the answer in your question.” What an insight!
Let’s take his advice and look at your question: You say, “Every time I get an idea, I seem to find a hundred reasons NOT to do it.” This indicates that you DO have ideas that interest you! It is what a part of the mind does with these ideas that causes your difficulty.
Your question reveals two parts inside of you. One part has ideas. They may even be adventurous! The other part – what I call the critical mind – gives you a hundred reasons in opposition, which form a powerful obstacle that stops you from truly exploring the idea. This critical mind criticizes it, makes it wrong, makes it unattractive, makes it not good enough, etc. In a short time you lose any excitement and adventurous feeling that you may have had about the idea.
Realize that the mind’s critique that leads you to, “It is not what I want,” is probably just to stop you from going to an unpredictable place where it doesn’t want you to go. But instead of it saying that it is unpredictable or dangerous, the critical mind gives a litany of perfectly logical reasons why it isn’t the place to go. In that way, it constantly keeps you away from the new…and stuck in the old – which it considers SAFE!
The problem is that life lives and breaths in adventure and the unknown, not in the safe and the predictable.
And it is one thing to experience something and decide that it isn’t for you. It is quite another thing when this decision becomes a continuing pattern of the mind. Then it is pointing to a deeper, hidden motivation.
And watch how the mind insists that, although this particular idea isn’t right, just keep waiting and hoping that the REAL thing will come down the pike. This keeps you from total despair. And you stay hooked to the future, looking for what is ABOUT to come, rather than exploring what is already in front of you that interests you. It is like “waiting for godot”…and godot never comes!
So what to do? When there is an initial experience of attraction to a career idea, pursue it!
Use what I call the “Adventure-Risk Zone” analysis. This analysis says, Find and take small steps into the Adventure-Risk Zone in the direction of the idea, but not so big that they trigger the resistance of the critical mind. You can then experiment taking steps towards your idea and learn which ones work and which ones don’t.
Once you understand how the critical mind functions, you can learn to bring your awareness and understanding in when the mind uses this obstacle. It is a knack that you can learn. And it certainly helps to have support while you are learning this. It is extremely helpful to have the support of people who know and understand how the critical mind functions. They can be resources and mirrors so that you can see what is happening unconsciously in the mind. And you can learn to break these patterns once you become aware of them. Then you can see that the pattern IS THERE, and move through and beyond it!
To sum it up: The critical mind finds the new and adventurous repugnant because it requires change to happen; it invites in the unknown; it is unpredictable. The mind sees this as very dangerous. So it does whatever it can to halt the process. It is this continuing pattern of stopping anything from materializing that begins to give the critical mind’s intention away. And once this is seen and understood, it is possible to challenge the mind and move beyond it when you become aware that it is going into the pattern again.
(In our FTWYL classes and workshops, we now do a substantial amount of work learning how to recognize and effectively deal with the critical mind.)
©2010 subhan schenker

Expectations and The Pain of Unworthiness

Questioner: Yes, time is precious. But is it so precious that people one is doing business with do not even bother dropping a line or two as a reply to urgent enquiries? Even a “Sorry, due to overload I will not be able to write to you for the next three months” would do. But simply ignoring the other… I feel this behavior is disrespectful , disheartening, unloving and simply rude. Is this only my trip?

Subhan: You ask: Is this only my trip? Here is how I understand it:
I certainly understand the need to be respected and the pain of feeling disrespected.
For me, it starts as the pain of unfulfilled expectation. “They should contact me and they haven’t.”
When that happens, I go deeper and underneath that I experience the pain of not being appreciated, of not being seen as someone worthy of a response.
This is MY wound. The other’s action is a trigger, but not the cause. So it can be a moment of pain and blaming the other for it; or it can become a deep learning about the wound of unworthiness that I carry within me.
And then the other becomes a teacher, rather than someone who has wronged me!

Questioner: Subhan, of course you are right, but that is the other level, perhaps the most important one. On the other hand – on the very down to earth – level – there are other people who depend on decisions being made, they want to get paid, for example… and then it is not only about appreciation, it is about daily life and freeing space for creativity instead of fretting… The look inside: very important. Trying to be emphatic – everyone – and put yourself into other peoples shoes, not wanting to let them wait – that’s important, too!

Subhan: Yes, I agree: being in the world is totally full of the challenges you speak about. And wouldn’t it be nice if everyone did the polite thing? Then they would make my life easier by fulfilling what I want them to do. So I can attempt to teach others the way I want to be treated. But they aren’t obliged to learn! And if my happiness is dependent upon their learning, then I am in trouble!

Here’s where the Indian mystic, Osho, turns everything upside down…and points to the only way out of this!

“If your expectations are fulfilled a hundred per cent, you will be living as if you are in the past, not in the future. You come home and you expected your wife to say something and she does. And you expected your child to behave in a certain way and the child does. Just think — you will be constantly in boredom. Nothing will happen. Everything will be just a repetition, as if you are seeing something which you have seen before, hearing something which you have heard before. Continuously you will see that it is a repetition of something. and repetition can never be satisfying. The new, the novel, the original, is needed.
So if your expectations are fulfilled. you will remain completely unfulfilled.
And if your expectations are not fulfilled. then you feel frustrated.
Once you drop expectations you have learned how to live. Then everything that happens fulfills you, whatsoever it is. For one thing, you never feel frustrated because in the first place you never expected. So frustration is impossible. Frustration is a shadow of expectation. With the expectation dropped, frustration drops on its own accord.
You cannot frustrate me, because I never expect anything. Whatsoever you do, I will say, ‘Good.’ I always say, ‘Good,’ except for only a few times when I say, ‘Very good.’
Once expectations are not there you are free to move into the unknown and to accept the unknown — whatsoever it brings. And to accept it with deep gratitude. Complaints disappear; grumbling disappears; whatsoever the situation, you always feel accepted, at home. Nobody is against you, existence is not a conspiracy against you — it is your home.”


Q.:I have been doing everything I can to become more aware and less unconscious. Can you share any shortcuts to awareness and self-remembrance?

Subhan: I have some good news and some bad news for you. The bad news is: there are no shortcuts. The good news is: THAT is the shortcut! People spend a great deal of time – and money – looking for back doors to the temple. But there are no back doors. So their shortcuts are really “LONGCUTS!” Perhaps even worse, they may NEVER get to where they want to go!

Here is the solution: find ways to release and express all the emotional stuff that you have suppressed and pushed into your psychological basement. And also find meditation techniques that you enjoy and do one every day. And finally, learn how to bring real celebration into your life. These steps are bound to give you more awareness in your daily life. Look for a spiritual or meditation center that offers these kinds of activities.

And stop looking for shortcuts!

©2010 subhan schenker

How Can I Be More Intelligent?


Q.: All my life I have tried to be an intelligent person. While there have been some moments of what I might call brilliance, most of the time I feel so ordinary – and even unintelligent – and that pains me. How do I get more moments of brilliance?

Subhan: I understand your desire and the resulting pain from not fulfilling it. So remember, wanting to be brilliant and being brilliant are two different worlds that do not know each other.

When the wanting to be brilliant is there, the mind chatter and resulting tension make the accomplishment impossible. When the brilliance is there, the mind chatter and tension disappear. The difference is the source of the situation. Wanting to be brilliant comes from the mind; being brilliant comes from a space where the mind cannot take control. Rather the mind can then be used to express what is coming from that space. We can call it the zone…the flow…the now…the no-mind. It is full of light, hence the word brilliant. Mozart knew this space and wrote: “It is when I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer…that ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how they come, I know not, nor can I force them.”

Listen to Mozart and don’t force brilliance! Rather, invite it. Create a space where the mind cannot take control. How to do that? The easiest way I know is to meditate. Einstein used to meditate by playing his violin and when he took a bath! That’s where some of his greatest ideas bubbled up!
And remember, your brilliance will be uniquely YOURS! So don’t expect it to look like others’ brilliance. What creativity and newness will come…no one knows…thank goodness!

©2006, 2010 subhan schenker