In this episode we discuss how you create your own reality. We explore the idea that your life experiences are not random or arbitrary, but rather a direct result of your subconscious beliefs. When the conscious and the subconscious conflict, the sub-conscious wins and you’ll never get over your past until you realize how you use it to justify yourself. We dig into the powerful revelation that life only ever changes in the paradigm of action. You must do something differently than what you’ve done before in order to change. All of this and much more with our guest Gary John Bishop.
Gary John Bishop is a personal development expert and is the author of the bestselling book Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life and the soon to be released Stop Doing That Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back. His approach blends a unique in-your-face approach with high-level training and development practices. Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland Gary’s work has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, Vice, Business Insider, and much more!
You’re responsible for the creation of your life. You have to accept it, embrace it, be aware of it, and know it.
In the living of your life - you will have to live the decisions and conclusions that you’ve made, whether you’re conscious of it or not
As a human being, its incumbent upon you to go beyond yourself, expand your awareness, and live life being fully
For the most part, your life is an expression of your subconscious. You’re mostly guided by the automatic.
Just because you’re aware of a problematic belief or behavior -doesn’t mean you will stop doing it
Why do people attend tons of personal development seminars, read books etc but then never actually change?
“There’s a massive difference between knowledge and awareness"
“At some level you must be pretty connected to having your life be the same”
When the conscious and the subconscious conflict, the sub-conscious wins.
Your subconscious makes up almost the entirety of what drives you
Because I believed that “life is a struggle”, “Where life wasn’t a struggle, I would make it one"
Your life experiences are not random or arbitrary, they are defined by an invisible set of rules that you believe to be true - but the reality you experience may not be the same reality that other people experience - the same rules that others experience.
Your life is a like the matrix, but the key difference is that you’re the rebels, AND the Matrix.
You currently existing in a “Default” way of living your life - but there are infinite alternatives to being alive and living your life
You are complicit and explicit in the reality that you create for yourself, and you’re not even aware to it.
Freedom for a human be defined as the actions you take, in relation to your default mode of being
You have to actually take action, you have to actually DO something with it.
Reading a book is nice, but if you don’t do anything with it, what’s the difference in having read it or not?
Life ONLY EVER CHANGES in the PARADIGM OF ACTION. You must DO SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY than what YOU’VE DONE BEFORE.
You don’t have to feel differently to do differently, you just have to DO differently.
Some of the greatest breakthroughs of science and engineering where discovered by accident.
Are you addicted to certainty?
“If you’ve had any kind of big success in your life, you’ll notice that you did it under conditions of uncertainty”
You have to go into the unknown and work your way through it to achieve anything
If you’ve had success, you try to preserve and maintain certainty, you lose the very strategy that made you successful (plunging into uncertainty)
Embrace uncertainty in your life.
If you’re not as hardcore as Gary John Bishop - how do you start taking action?
Make promises to yourself, your promises have to be greater than how you feel.
Start with small actions - and small steps to build momentum and credibility with yourself
You are not defined by your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs you are defined by your actions.
“I am not my thoughts, I am what I do"
The beliefs that we hold at our core - manifest in our lives as all kinds of other reasons and logical explanations and rationalizations - but we are really deceiving ourselves
What if you could produce results that go beyond your current beliefs and thoughts?
The life you have is driven by what you do and don’t do - and what you continue to do and not do.
You don’t need to think differently, you just need to do differently.
You are what you do, not what you feel about what you do.
Is your life about revealing the future you want or perpetuating the past?
Whatever you don’t forgive lives on with you. That includes forgiving yourself and forgiving others.
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
Withholding forgiveness perpetuates what happens, and you end up being left with the resentment.
The future is far more important than your unwillingness to forgive.
How do you forgive someone? How do you forgive yourself?
You’ll never get over your past until you realize how you use it to justify yourself.
You are very consciously using your past to justify your present, you need to start uncovering instances of that and realizing that behavior pattern
The idea “things are the way they are, because of the way things have always been” may be a superstition. Causality is a superstition. It’s voodoo.
Why can’t you be “caused” by some of the greatest experiences of your childhood? Why does it have to be the negative experiences of your childhood?
Reserve causality - what if you were caused by something YET to happen? What if you were caused by something which hasn’t
The simple example of a hammer hitting a nail - is that all it is? What caused the nail to go into the wood?
Homework: Look around in your life, look at something you’ve been tolerating, putting off, ignoring or pretending about - pick one item you’ve been tolerating and go handle it TODAY. Take that item, step into action, and go handle it TODAY, regardless of how you feel about it.
You’ll realize after doing it that you’re inspired to take MORE action.
It begins with cleaning up some fo the existing mess in your life today.
The more mess you clean up, the great stuff becomes more and more clear.
Thank you so much for listening!
Please SUBSCRIBE and LEAVE US A REVIEW on iTunes! (Click here for instructions on how to do that).
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Want To Dig In More?! - Here’s The Show Notes, Links, & Research
The Manual - “How to Unfu*k Yourself: Unabashed Life Wisdom from Gary John Bishop” by Steven John
Bustle - “7 Mantras To Help You Think More Positively, According To A Personal Development Coach” By Suzannah Weiss
Forbes - “15 Ways To Have The Most Productive Year Of Your Life” by Brianna Wiest
The Guardian - “We are what we say: how thoughts and speech shape our wellbeing” by Gary John Bishop
Business Insider - “I teach people to be more successful, and one of the first things I share is a simple question” by Gary John Bishop
Pinterest board - 83 Motivational Quotes from Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop
[Podcast] Zibby Owens (Feb 2019) - Gary John Bishop, UNF*CK YOURSELF
[Podcast] Knowledge for Men - Gary John Bishop: Unf*ck Yourself! Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life by Andrew Ferebee
[Podcast] Jeff Agostinelli - 097: How to Unfu*k Yourself and Flip That Outdated Story with Gary John Bishop
[Podcast] Dad Edge Podcast (formerly Good Dad Project) - How to Unf*ck Yourself with Gary John Bishop
[Podcast] Elite Man podcast - How To Unfuck Yourself And Create The Life You Want – Gary John Bishop (Ep. 133)
Gary’s YouTube Channel
Book Review: Jecht Spencer - Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life - Gary John Bishop
HarperOne - Gary John Bishop on Life Choices
Science of Success - How to stop worrying and start living - Unf*ck Yourself by Gary Bishop
Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life by Gary John Bishop
Stop Doing That Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back by Gary John Bishop
[Wiki Article] Émile Coué
[Wiki Article] Alan Watts
[SoS Episode] Embracing Discomfort
[SoS Episode] How To Demolish What’s Holding You Back & Leave Your Comfort Zone with Andy Molinsky
[SoS Episode] Your Secret Weapon to Becoming Fearless with Jia Jiang
[00:00:04.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success. Introducing your host, Matt Bodnar.
[00:00:11] MB: Welcome to the Science of Success, the number one evidence-based growth podcast on the internet with more than 3 million downloads, listeners in over a hundred countries.
In this episode, we discuss how you create your own reality. We explore the idea that your life experiences are not random or arbitrary, but rather a direct result of your subconscious believes. When the conscious and the subconscious conflict, the subconscious wins and you’ll never get over your past until you realize how you’re using it to justify yourself. We dig into the powerful revelation that life only ever changes in the paradigm of action. You must do something differently than what you’ve done before in order to change. We talk about all these and much more with our guest, Gary John Bishop.
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In our previous episode, we discussed the female and male brains. Are they different? If so, what are the differences and do they matter? We looked at the science behind all of these and unlocked key insights into how you can improve your health, happiness and relationships by using a few simple strategies with our guest, Dr. Louann Brizendine. If you want some surprising science that you can use to transform your relationships, listen to our previous episode.
Now, for our interview with Gary. Please note, this episode contains profanity.
[00:03:18] MB: Today, we have another exciting guest on the show, Gary John Bishop. Gary is a personal development expert and he’s the author of the bestselling book Unfuck Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life, and the soon to be released Stop Doing That Shit and Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back.
His approach blends a unique in your face approach with a high-level training and development practices. Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, Gary’s work has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, Vice, Business Insider and much more.
Gary, welcome to the Science of Success.
[00:03:49] GJB: Great to be with you, Matt. Thanks for having me. Almost got my words mixed up there. But yeah, thanks for having me.
[00:03:55] MB: Oh, it happens. It happens. Well, we’re very excited to have you on here, Gary. Love your message and your work, and I can’t wait to dig in to a number of the different themes and ideas that you’ve written about and talked about.
[00:04:05] GJB: Good! Now, let’s get to it.
[00:04:06] MB: So one of the things that I really enjoy about your approach to things is this idea of – And you may not exactly call it this, but this idea of responsibility and that where we are in our lives, fundamentally, we’re responsible for the creation of that. Could you begin by unpacking that idea and explaining that a little bit?
[00:04:26] GJB: Yeah. People use the word responsibility a lot and I don’t think they use it responsibly. So it eventually comes down to be into blame for something or something is your fault, and that’s really not responsibility in the sense of a human being. So being responsible for something is a human being means like you fully accept it. You fully embrace it. You are aware of it. You know it, and you take all those things into consideration and you’re still doing the shit that you usually do, then now you’re being irresponsible.
As human beings, you don’t tend to have much sense or at least awareness of some of the stuff that have put together. Some of the things we’ve accepted as believes, some of the things that we have concluded. But ultimately in the living of one’s life, you will have to live with those decisions and conclusions, whether you’re conscious of making those decisions and conclusions or not.
So I really feel as if as human being, it’s incumbent upon you to go beyond knowing things about yourself, go beyond raking up reams of knowledge about yourself and start to make some connections, to start to expand your awareness and then to live life being fully responsible for that, which you’ve made yourself aware of.
[00:05:47] MB: The thing that I feel like so many people struggle with is that part of acknowledging and accepting the things that they either consciously or subconsciously brought into their life or created as a part of their lives.
[00:06:00] GJB: Yeah. For the most your life is subconscious expression. So what I mean by that, I mean you’re mostly guided by the automatic. Most people can tell you what they do. A lot of people can tell you why they do what they do, but not to the degree that they stop doing it. So I’m interested in getting in that a little bit deeper. What is it that’s really fueling me as a human being? That’s what I talk about extensively in Stop Doing That Shit, and I know these have these kind of like – My books kind of have these kind of abrasive titles, but there’s a lot in those books. It’s not just me telling you to stop doing something, right? I mean, you can just ask your mother. She’ll tell you to stop doing a bunch of stuff.
So my approach is definitely understanding yourself in a way that perhaps until that point in your life you might not have done. In Stop Doing That Shit, I provide you with a real pathway to joining some of the dots of your own behaviors that are working against you to reveal something that perhaps you hadn’t considered.
[00:07:11] MB: You bring up another really important idea and then expanding that out a little bit was a question that I’ve always had that I think your work hits at the heart of, which is this notion that people often time spend time, energy, money attending all kinds of personal development seminars, reading tons of self-help books, etc., and yet never really fundamentally change. Why is that?
[00:07:33] GJB: A couple of reasons. As I said, there’s a massive difference between knowledge and awareness. So I’ve met some really smart people who are about as aware as a plate of dead fish. They could tell you tons of stuff about awareness, but that hasn’t made them aware. So when you’re aware of something, when something goes off in you, when you’re enlivened by something, you get an insight of something that’s so compelling that there’s no way back from it. You can no longer act the way you’ve acted. To me, that’s a real insight.
As human beings we can tend to become these kind of insight junkies, like, “Oh, yeah! That’s really interesting.” Part of that is because when we are reading or listening or watching something, we’re doing it at just a very kind of basic level. We’re just doing it in a level of agreement and disagreement and coming up with the arguments for and against in our head as we’re doing it rather than being in it for what it might illuminate. I guess that’s part of my problem with philosophy in general is way too interested in itself rather than its usefulness.
Why do we often not really change? Because we’re still pretty much addicted to the mess that we’ve built because there’s a kind of gravity, a certain kind of certainty and the life you have even though you might not particularly like the life you have or say you really want to change it or even be doing a lot of stuff that you feel that you have to change it. At some level you must be pretty connected to having to be the same, and that is a big part of what Stop Doing That Shit is about. It really is about once and for all revealing what your resistance to change is grounded at.
[00:09:25] MB: That phrase, at some level you must be pretty connected to having things be the same. So powerful and yet I think listeners may not fully graph the importance and the depth behind that. Can you explain that a little bit more and really what that actually means?
[00:09:40] GJB: Yeah. There’s a French guy by the name of Émile Coué. I think that’s how you pronounce his name. There’s an inflection at the end, so I’m presuming there’s an emphasis on the A. But anyway, Émile Coué, he lived in like the 18th century and he said – He didn’t say it this way. He said it in a much more French eloquent way, but this is the Scottish interpretation you’re getting. When the conscious and the subconscious conflict, the subconscious wins.
So if I’ve subconsciously, and your subconscious by the way isn’t some foo-foo made up thing. It’s real. You don’t need me to give you evidence of it. You stroll your way through Google. Neuroscience agrees that’s real. It’s a thing. It’s there. It makes up most of what do I feel. When I say most, I mean almost entirely what do I feel.
But what if you looked at your life in the perspective of your subconscious? What if you looked at your life and said, “Well, what if all these is supposed to be this way? What does it prove? What is this bring to life for me as a human being?”
So I’ll give you an example and this is one of the examples I talk about in the book, but it took me a number of years to discover that at some level at some time in my life concluded that life is a struggle. I have to stance of doing such a thing. I have no stance of like, “Oh, yeah. Life is a struggle.” I just realize that when I look around me, like everything is a struggle. It was nothing that wasn’t a struggle. It was all hard work. I notice these other people how they were interacting with life wasn’t like mine. I also noticed that where life wasn’t a struggle, I would make it one. I’ll find a way to have the struggle come to life, and it was digging and digging and digging at that. I started to see like not only was in my experience of things was life a struggle, but that I was actively engaging myself with things that would make it one, and none of it was an accident. I would look at myself sabotaging. Suddenly myself sabotage became obvious. Well, of course, and this is what kind of tied in to what Coué said. Anytime something that came up that would conflict with the notion that life is a struggle, I would either dismiss it or throw a hand grenade in it so I’ll blow it up.
I have no sense of doing such a thing, but if you track my behaviors, it was not only dead on the money, but it was consistent and cyclical and it was – I’m sure your listeners can relate to this. Situations where my wife would seemingly be going in the direction, and then boom! And then going in the right direction, and then boom! And then going in the right direction, and then boom! Over and over and over.
My assertion is – Again, that’s in the book. That’s what we’re doing as human beings. We’re overcoming something, almost getting there. Something’s temporarily getting there and then bringing the conclusion by to life again over and over and over, and then you die.
[00:12:50] MB: So this idea that your belief that life was a struggle was showing up in all kinds of areas of your life. It was cropping up in seemingly unrelated things and you make a really important point, which I want to underscore, which is this notion that this isn’t something you were consciously trying to do. It was a subconscious pattern that was manifesting itself.
[00:13:11] GJB: Right. It all started for me a number of years ago by actually getting out of bed one morning and I actually caught myself, reminding myself who I was pissed off at. I kind of had to remind myself, like, “Oh, yeah.”
Then when I looked at it really closely, I noticed that in moments before that, I wasn’t pissed off at them. So they weren’t even on my mind. I had to like, check-in with my reality. You might have listeners right now that are nodding their head going, “Oh my gosh! I’ve done that.” So it’s not rocket science really to start to understand it. Every morning, I don’t wake up into the world. I wake up into a very specific world, a world of my nuances, by biases, my upsets, my view of things if you like. But more, deeper than that actually is my experience of being alive. There’s just what it’s like for me to engage with this life, and it’s not arbitrary. It’s not just some random experience of being alive. It’s a very defined one with certain limitations and certain sacred cows and certain – Like it’s just very defined.
The people that I would call my friends are the ones who have a life experience that’s closer to my, right? So that would be like, “Oh, you see it that way and you experience it –” “Oh, yeah. I do too.” “Yeah, we should be friends.” Then people who don’t, like you experience it in a totally different way. Well, clearly, you’re just an idea or you’re wrong or something.
But what I’m experiencing as a human being – And I started to really get like every day I reintroduce the Matrix. I just reintroduce it and then I live it, and then I reintroduce it and I live it. So seeing that life was a struggle for me was like seeing the black cat in the Matrix. It was like, “Oh, shoot! There’s the program,” and it took me a while to come in terms with it. In the Matrix, I am both the rebels and the Matrix. I’m all of it. I’m the whole thing, and it was really – It’s suddenly my self-sabotage and the ways that I would undermine myself. It just revealed itself like this kind of unfolding series of aha moments and start to really understand that there exists for me or within me, if you like, which is I don’t even know it’s within me in a literal sense, but there is the presence of a default way of living, that I until I discovered it, it was the only way of living. When I discovered it and saw it as a default way of living, suddenly I could see all these alternatives. Suddenly I could see all these other ways of being alive and being expressed and having my life be a bit something a little other than overcoming what’s there for me to overcome by default.
[00:16:20] MB: I love the Matrix analogy, because I think it comes back to the original idea that we were talking about before, this notion of responsibility and the face that your life experiences are not random or arbitrary. They’re defined by an invisible set of rules that you believe to be true. But the reality you’re experiencing is not the same reality that other people experience.
I love this notion that if it’s the Matrix, you’re the rebels in the sense that you’re trying to change yourself, but the really important thing that you said is that you’re also the Matrix. Your complicit and explicitly creating this reality that you’re experiencing and you’re not even aware of it.
[00:16:56] GJB: I would be willing to wager that most of your listeners or a large percentage of your listeners are what I would call have a default way of being called being analytical. They’re kind of drawn to your conversation because it gets to scratch that particular itch. There’s nothing wrong with being analytical. In fact, again, most of the lessons, if you look at being analytical as a way of being, you’ll find that works very well in your career.
However, being analytical is one of those things as a way of being, as a default way of being. It’s a little too fascinated with itself. So somebody might come up with a solution for you and you’ll like this solution, but then you’ll start to analyze and then you’ll what if it, and you’ll could have, should have, would have it until its usefulness is no longer applicable, which means you don’t need to analyze different and other answer. Does that make sense?
[00:17:55] MB: Yeah. I think it definitely makes sense.
[00:17:57] GJB: All right, good. But if you start to see like, “Wow!” That’s what I do by default. Actually, that’s part of my default wiring, because an analyst just needs problems. It’s a very internal state. It can also be a worrisome state as a way of being. Again, I’m coming to this from an anthological perspective. That is, looking at a human being from a perspective of their ways of being right. [inaudible 00:18:22] and from the perspective of your ways of being.
Being responsible means I’ve done the work to reveal those to myself in such a way that they make other things available and that I can actually see the ways in which the default ways of being intrude in the quality of my life or in my ability to go beyond what I think my potential is and I’m responsible for them in such a way that their impact on me and my wife diminishes greatly. I’m fascinated by a human’s being ability to go beyond who they have come to know themselves as.
Martin Heidegger, the German philosopher said, “Freedom for a human being can be found in the actions that one takes,” and I’m going to paraphrase here, “can be found in the actions that one takes when confronted by one’s default self.” That is, when I notice my default self and yet I act independently of that, Heidegger says that was and is freedom for a human being.
[00:19:33] MB: That’s really powerful, and the focus that you have and you talk about in taking action, is something that’s so important and many ways shapes the structure and the ideas around our show. We try to always figure out how can we create concrete action steps and ways for the listeners to implement things. So I really love to see that as a core component of what your message and the fact that it’s not just about becoming aware and then accepting the default network. You actually have to take action. You actually have to do something to change it.
[00:20:07] GJB: Yeah. You got to drive a bus through it as I’d like to say, right? You got to drive a bus through it. One of my pet peeves right now is social media with people posting pictures and then declaring they’ve read their 19th book of the year or whatever that is. You know, “This is my 32nd book,” and I say this is fine, but what are you changing? What have you taken on? What did you realize? What did you uncover? What have you transformed? What have you transcended? How has the reading of that single book shifted your life?
I’m a great believer and you could basically read any book and find something in there that you could use to change your life. I really mean that you could read a book about Greek architecture and find something in there that actually inspires you to change your life or gives you the kind of insight, if you think about it, to change your life.
Change and life by the way does not come from insights, and I love insights by the way. I love a good old-fashioned Scottish insight. However, life only ever changes, only, only ever, ever changes in the paradigm of action. So that is that you now do differently than you did before. The illusion is that somehow we feel as if or we think that we have to feel differently in order to do differently. That is not true. That’s nonsense. That’s why the whole thing about positivity kind of grinds my gears a little.
Some of the most positive things I’ve ever done in my life, I did them with a negative mindset. I don’t have to tell myself that it was awesome to do awesome things. I found that my – I got to being an extraordinary human being and engaging with extraordinary things as an ordinary man. So that is with all the nuances and biases of every other ordinary man, and there’s nothing extraordinary about me at all in the slightest. I’m just an average kind of guy who engages with extraordinary things and gets challenged by them. There’s no special genetic kind of disposition for extraordinary going on over here. I’m a very ordinary human being with a pretty unspectacular life. What makes a human being extraordinary is the kind of things they engage themselves with and the actions they take, right? Because life only ever shifts.
By the way, you didn’t have to believing I’m saying. Try it out. Try it out for yourself. Try it. You’ll see that your life changes only in the paradigm action. If you’re not making physical changes, more of this, less of that, less of that, more of this, your life won’t change. You might feel a bit better, but it will be the same nonsense.
[00:23:04] MB: Reminds me of that classic quote, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” I feel like so many people fall into the trap of waiting to feel good or waiting to feel that they’re ready to start taking action. As you’re saying, it’s really almost the opposite. You need to take action first and then the changes start to actually accumulate.
[00:23:30] GJB: Right. So I would put almost all of my success in life in the last dozen years or so into throwing myself into things that I have no idea how I was going to do them, which was a complete shift from how I’ve done it before. I always needed to plan it out and make sure I knew I was doing and ta-ta-ta-ta-ta, and if I wasn’t feeling it, then I’m not doing it and I don’t feel confident enough and I don’t feel as if I know enough, which if you’re analytical, yeah, that’s like a hamster on a wheel right there because you’ll never know enough.
Again, if you just use reality, some of the greatest breakthroughs of science and engineering were made by accident. So they were made by people actually working on something else and then like, “Oh! What’s that?” Which tells you that in the paradigm action, when you’re acting on something. I don’t mean just sitting in your chair thinking about, because thinking isn’t an action, and you’re actually doing. You’re producing. That’s where discoveries are made. That’s where actually you make progress, it’s in the doing. It’s not like I’m anti-thinking about doing. I just think it’s way overrated.
[00:24:38] MB: This also dovetails a little bit into one of the core themes that you talk and write about as well, which underscores a lot of these feelings of not being ready or not taking action, which is the need for certainty.
[00:24:50] GJB: Yeah, we’re addicted to certainty, and it gets worse as you get older. So when you’re really young – I got three kids. I have a 14-year-old, 7-year-old and a 4-year-old, and the 4-year-old has no concern for certainly. Like he just doesn’t care. He’s out there, he’s living, he’s doing it.
The 14-year-old is getting more and more concerned for things being a certain way, and that just gets more and more and more as you get older. I talk about this in my first book, I’d say, “Look, if you have had any kind of success in your life, you’ll notice that you did it in a condition off uncertainty.” So any kind of big success you feel as if you produced, whether you went to college, moved to a new town, applied for a new job, started a business, whatever, you’ve asked somebody out, whatever your thing is, “That was a big thing for me.” You’ll see you did in a condition of uncertainty. That is you went into the unknown and you worked your way through it.
Now, you’ll also notice that when you have had some kind of success in a certain area, that what then follows is trying to preserve it or maintain it, right? So you’ve now given up on the very strategy that got you there. Now you’re in some other strategy. How do I preserve my certainty? Because, by and large as human beings, we just hate, hate, hate, hate uncertainty, yet we’re drawn to it. So I want things to be – Some level I want things to be same, but I want this new thing.
My view is that’s the kind of crossroads where human beings exist. They exist in this kind of crossroads between having things be the same, yet desiring the new. If you want new things to happen in your life, you need to be someone who starts to get comfortable with that you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. If anything’s going to give you any comfort, that would be the knowledge that if doesn’t turn out, you’re going to be fine. Your survival kick in. You’ll work your way through it. You’ll be fine
So I really encourage people to embrace uncertainty in life to really get – If you really ought to have something great happen, then uncertainty is going to be a part of it. You’re either going to resist that and stick to what you know or you’re going to reach for something way beyond your potential or at least the potential that you think you have.
[00:27:10] MB: I couldn’t agree more, and we’ve had many, many episodes in the show where we talk about the importance of embracing uncertainty. What are some of the strategies that you found that are particularly helpful, exercises or things to begin to step into the uncertain?
[00:27:26] GJB: Yeah. I mean, I’ve done a lot of work on myself, Matt. I really dug in the depths, right? I’ve been into the dirt where people just don’t go, and I’ve really uncovered an awful lot of what was driving this kind of persona of mine, right? Why it was also important. So that was a big part of it was this kind of uncovering.
But a really simple strategy that I still use, and I use this all the time, is this whole notion of personal promises. Promises aren’t something we really use in our lives, right? We don’t. We say things like, “I’m going to try,” “I want to,” “I’m going to,” but nobody is really like sticking a flag in the ground saying, “I promise to delivery this by ta-ta-ta-ta, a day or something.”
So when I wrote my first book, when I wrote Unfuck Yourself, I noticed that I was having a physiological reaction to the idea of writing a book. I’m getting butterflies in my stomach. I noticed when it came down to it, I just didn’t want to write it. Now, I could get into, “Oh, let’s uncover why you don’t want to write it and all that stuff,” and I did to some degree or another. But rather what I did was I stuck a flag in the ground and said, “Okay. I’m going to give myself nine months to write this book and I’m going to deliver yon it.”
So every day, I would get up, I would go to the laptop and I would notice there was some kind of mood I was in, some kind of, “Oh, look,” that I had. Some kind of feeling that I had that I was in contrast to what I said I would do. So what I started to live was the life of my promises. So I’ve started to live – I started to do what I said I would do and give less and less and less attention to how I felt about what I was doing.
So I would say my success as a writer is completely a function of delivering on the promises that I made and everywhere along the way handling myself, and handling, my resignation, and handling my cynicism, and handling my upsets, and handling my circumstances to delivery on what I said I would do. Having what I said I would do reach the kind of importance that it deserves, which it deserves an importance way greater than how I might feel about any of that. Because my promises exist outside of me. They don’t exist in my or they don’t – I don’t experience my promises.
So my promises are like a straight line from here to there and all the junk in between here and there is how I feel about it and like whether my circumstances fit with it and ta-ta-ta-ta-ta. So I make bold promises in my wife. I’m not careful about promises. By the way, I’m bold about them. I get out there. I make promises that I’m not really sure if I can keep it or not and I turn myself inside out to deliver on them. I’m not somebody – You don’t talk me out of my promises. I make them. I deliver on them. I make them. I deliver on them. I make them. I deliver on them. All that junk that happens in our life has little to no impact on the power of the promises that I make to myself, in my wife, in my profession, in my relationships, because the promises that I make to myself are getting bigger and bolder and more compelling and they call me out. They call me to be a greater self.
[00:30:56] MB: For someone who’s not as hardcore as you, and honestly I think you and I are similar in the sense that I’m also very hardcore. I try to push myself really hard. What are some of the ways that people can step into taking more action?
[00:31:10] GJB: Yeah, and that’s a great question. So this whole world of personal promises actually starts small. So if you start with a promise – I’ll give you a simple one that people just wrestle with for some reason. But anyway, you set your alarm for 6AM. Promise yourself you’re going to be up the first ring. So the first one that goes off, get up. That’s the promise you had make yourself, and that promise is greater than how you feel when you wake up. Because you might feel, “Oh, I hardly didn’t sleep.” “Oh, I’ve got a sore head.” “Oh, it’s cold.” You got to set all that aside and hold yourself to that promise. So it’s all simple things, like little promises.
Now, human beings – And this is the thing that just never ceases to amaze me. The more you keep promises, the more emboldened you’ll get. You’ll actually start to experience yourself as a bigger human being. So it’s no surprise that one might relate to oneself a small or incapable or somehow not quite up to the task, because your life is filled with a trail of broken promises, things you would tell yourself that you want to do it and then for some reason or another, you are able to talk yourself out of it. Then that just kind of gets thrown in the backpack like another little disappointment. So you got to build that back up again. You got to come back. You got to really start to bring forth the presence of your personal power and you do it in little ways.
So one of the things that I took on a while back was intermittent fasting, okay? So I’d read about it and understood it, and I love pizza and fast food and all that kind of stuff, and I didn’t fancy the whole idea of living the rest of my life on a diet. I didn’t fast like eating kale all the way to the grave. So I looked for something that I thought can work for me, and I came across this intermittent fasting, which is you eat during an 8-hour window and then you don’t eat for 16 hours and you do that every day. For me, it looks like I don’t eat till noon, and then the last thing I can eat is 8 at night.
At the beginning it was so challenging. I mean, because physiology my body is like, “Have a snack,” or every time you go in the refrigerator, like, “Eat that sandwich,” and it was just on and on and on, and I’ll did was just these little victories of like, “No, I said I wouldn’t eat, so I’m not eating.” “All right. I said I wouldn’t eat at this time, so I’m not eating.” It was really, really challenging. The first months was like, “Oh my God! I don’t think I can do this.”
Then I noticed like it was getting easier and easier and easier and easier and I was starting to get bolder and bolder with the promises. Like I really felt it was if my personal power was coming to life. Literally, what I was experiencing was a victory for what I said over how I felt. So I would say to people, “Start – Layout some small, even just one small victory that’s a victory for what you said over how you feel and start to pepper your life with those little victories, like that’s a victory for what I said over how I feel. That’s a victory for what I said over how I feel, and you’ll actually start to see, gather this body of evidence for that your life could be a series of promises fulfilled.
[00:34:27] MB: That’s a great way to break it down, starting with small, easily definable, easily executable actions and promises, and it’s like a snowball rolling downhill. Slowly builds more and more and more momentum. That also makes me think of tangentially related idea or a theme that you talked about, which is this notion that we’re not defined by our feelings, our thoughts, our believes, but we’re only fundamentally defined. Our identities are really truly defined by our actions.
[00:34:57] GJB: Right. I wanted people to get the sense, because look, we all have an inner critique. We all have some internal dialogue, which basically – It exists like some kind of conundrum. It seems like no matter what you do, there it is. Whatever your sense – Mostly in our lives we’re trying to organize ourselves around it, right?
So if your internal dialogue is fundamentally from something like, “I’m not smart enough.” That will be guiding you in ways that you can’t even imagine. You will literally – It’ll seem like legitimate reasons, like, “Oh, I’m not doing it because of this, this, this, this and this,” but if you peel all that back you’ll see what’s the running the whole thing is I’m not smart enough, and I’m giving you an example here.
So now you’re actually being defined by something called I’m not smart enough. So your life is getting defined by – So those jobs you won’t apply for. You won’t write that book. You’re not going to move to that town. Why? Because at some level you don’t think you’re up to it. You’ll have a lot – Again, on the surface, compelling reasons. They all are being put there to kind of bring some logic to the whole thing. But ultimately, you are being pushed in a certain direction by something that’s going on with you below the surface.
I say, well, first, if you could recognize out this interest. Secondly, what if you could produce results that go beyond that? For me, writing a book was something that goes beyond what’s going on with me subconsciously. I mean, someone with my internal wiring wouldn’t write a book. It wouldn’t do it.
So the only way I am author by virtue of the actions I took, period. How I felt about all of that played little or no part in it, and if it’s only actions, like I talked to earlier, actions are the paradigm of change. That’s where your life changes, in the actions that you take and the actions that you don’t take. Then it brings a lot – It takes all the attention away from working on like – I don’t know, getting more confidence or whatever the thing is that I think may be going on with me internally that I need to fix, if I actually focus on, “Okay. But let’s say this thing that I want to do, what if I just did it?” Then you’re actually now – You’re living your life is a reflection of your action.
I mean, look, you’re currently living your life as a reflection of your actions. I mean, the life you have is given by what you did and didn’t do and that what you continue to do and not do. So, again, if you want to bring real insignificant change to the directions or the trajectory of your life, I know a lot of people will say, “Well, think differently.” I don’t think you have to. I think you need to do differently than you’ve done before. I think today you need to do something that you didn’t do yesterday, something that’s more in line with the future you’re out to have, and I think you increasingly need to pepper your lie with those kinds of actions, because when it comes down to it, you are what you do, rather than you are how you feel about what you do.
[00:38:23] MB: That’s a really powerful way to phrase it. What would you say to somebody who’s listening that’s thinking to themselves, “You’re just trying to bury your feelings or push your feelings aside, and that’s not necessarily a healthy way to think about taking action.”
[00:38:40] GJB: Well, I wouldn’t agree with burying your feelings. I think about a point in society where we’ve made our feelings. There was once upon a time in history where your feelings were completely discounted, and people had the experience of being suppressed I think would endanger of going the whole other way now, where it’s all about your feelings.
I’m not any different than anybody. I also experience loss, disappointment. I experienced all those things, and [inaudible 00:39:07]. At some point whether you’re experiencing any of those things, loss, or disappointment, or apathy, or you don’t experience yourself as somebody who has confidence. That actually is the only thing that you have any say in. You don’t have a say in what the world is going to do. The world is going to do what it’s going to do. You have a massive say in your experience of this world. Nobody is going to come and save you in that regard.
So I will acknowledge how I feel. If I’m in some kind of a negative state, I’ll acknowledge. I don’t just crush it and press it down. I don’t do any of that. I acknowledge it. I give it the space that it deserves. If you’ve given it more space than it deserves, it will have the final say in how your life goes. So I’m not going tell people like suppress their emotions. Saying to people, “You need to put them in prospect. You need to put them in the right place.” If you’re feeling sad or you’re feeling disappointed, those are appropriate to being a human being. They’re very appropriate to the experience of being a human being, but they’re not the kind of things that i would use to define my life.
As I say to people, “You’re more like a conduit as supposed to your location.” Experiences come and go. Feelings come and go. They’re legitimate. They’re real. They’re part of the notion of what it is to be a human being, but you should be aware and very responsible for the significance that you put on those feelings and you should be very responsible for the impact they have in your life overall, because no one can be responsible for that other than you. No one can have a say in that other than you. Ultimately, like I said, no one’s coming and save you. If you really want to do great things and go beyond your own set of personal constraints that will require you to act with those negative feelings sometimes there, sometimes not there.
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[00:43:08] MB: Earlier you talked about one of the core strategies for overcoming self-sabotage, being around the importance of creating alternatives for yourself, alternative ways of belief, alternative ways of understanding. How do we go about starting to create some of those alternatives?
[00:43:26] GJB: One of the things that I do, and I do this regularly, is I – This is an example that I used in Stop Doing That Shit and the latest book. It was said that when Michael Angelo created David, it was from a giant block of marble. It was said that in his mind, David was already done. All he was doing was revealing David. So every step, like he’s just taking another piece of way that was in David.
I invite people to kind of take their lives on that way, like they start with the ending. Start with, “This is done.” All I’m doing is revealing it. I look at my life in a day-to-day actions is what I’m doing today. Revealing a future or perpetuating the past is what I’m doing, revealing the future or perpetuating a past. In very short order, you’ll see that most of your life is about perpetuating the past.
So if I’m out to have a future of having written five books, every day I’m taking actions that are either consistent with five books or something else. So it’s not a hard comparison to make. It’s pretty easy to see you’re taking your life in a direction that’s not consistent with what you, yourself, have created. Again, that’s where the importance of those promises start to grow and become more significant.
[00:44:52] MB: How does forgiveness play into overcoming some of these limiting beliefs that contribute so much to self-sabotage?
[00:45:00] GJB: Yeah. If you or somebody who struggles to forgive, you better learn fast, because whatever you don’t forgive lives on with you. That includes forgiving yourself and forgiving others. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, because it feels like often for us as human beings, if I don’t forgive somebody at sometimes, it’s somehow evens up whatever they did or didn’t do, and it doesn’t. It perpetuates what they did or didn’t do, and you’re the one that’s left with the resentment.
So you can’t have no forgiveness without resentment. I don’t care how many times you convince yourself that you can. That’s bullshit. You can’t – By the way, if anybody is listening to this right now and they can experience their emotional state start to rise, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. That’s what you’ve given yourself. You’ve given yourself the gift of anger and resentment and upset. Sometimes it’s like you’re despondent or you’ve turned yourself into a victim or something. So as a human being, I feel as if it’s incumbent upon on each of us to forgive as quickly as possible. Why? Because the future is far more important than your unwillingness to forgive and to hang on to the past.
[00:46:25] MB: Such a powerful way to phrase that. I love that phrasing; the future is more important than your unwillingness to forgive.
[00:46:31] GJB: Correct. Look, I never said forgiveness is easy, but one of the things that I’m able to do with people is actually show them how to forgive. I mean, nobody really shows you how to do that. How do you forgive another? Or how do you forgive myself?
The one with yourself is a little easier. You don’t forgive yourself because it allows you to stay and whatever you’ve done. It allows you to keep that as some kind of excuse not to move ahead. So people say, “Oh, yeah. I can forgive all the people, but I can’t forgive myself.” Oh! You’re an asshole. You got to cut that shit out. I’ll tell you why you got to cut that shit out, because it allows you to justify this crappy life that you currently have. You’ll never ever get over your past until you deal with how you’ve used your past to justify the current life you have.
[00:47:28] MB: That’s one of my favorite quotes from your work. Tell me more. Unpack that a little bit more for me.
[00:47:34] GJB: Yeah. You’ve built a life around your past. I mean, it doesn’t seem like you have. You’ve become – Some people have become harsher because of their past. Some people have become less vulnerable in their mind because of their past. But if you read anything like Alan Watts for instance, he’ll tell you there’s no cause and effect from the past or the present. It’s not real. It’s a made up thing by human beings. You’re not really caused by the past. It’s just something you’ve hang on to. By the way, if any of your listeners who have never listened to Alan Watts, have read anything bu Alan Watts, he’ll shake your reality to its very core.
Some people would say, “Well, I’m on this relationship with this person, but we never had love when I was a kid. So I have to struggle when we have love I this relationship.” That’s an example of using the past to justify that you’re just unwilling to share or be vulnerable with this person. You’re just not willing to deal with whatever you need to deal with personally to love another. Therefore you perpetuate the myth of your own past.
I mean, the examples of massive. At a crappy drive when you worked this morning. So therefore the rest of the day is screwed, or, “Why you’re in a bad mood?” “Oh, it’s just I’m having a tough time right now.” “Well, not right now you’re not. You might have done yesterday, or this morning, or this week, or this month, but right now that’s using the past to justify yourself right now.”
So you didn’t always have a say in some of the stuff that happened in your life. You don’t always have a saying in some of that. But you have all the say in how that’s going to impact your life moving forward. Part of shacking yourself free from the grip of that and starting to realize that you are in fact very consciously using your past to justify your present. If you can uncover 1, 2, 10, 50 examples of that, you start to see that you’ve pretty much turned yourself into a small human being.
[00:49:39] MB: This is a bit of an aside, but I’m a tremendous Alan Watts fan. He’s one of my all-time favorite thinkers and writers and really one of the most insightful people. It’s amazing, because he died so many years ago. It was like 30, 40 years ago, and yet his work is still so powerful and so resonant.
[00:49:57] GJB: Yeah. Well, one of the things – I talk about this by the way in my latest book, Watts talked about causality, and that the illusion for human beings that causality travels from the past to the present and to the future like a line. It’s always flowing in one direction. So things are the way they are because of the way things have been. We live with that. I would call that no more than a superstition. Having been dwelling in that notion for probably a good five or six years now.
Causality is by and large a superstition and it’s voodoo, right? If you gather real thought, like when one makes able to hammer. The head of the hammer drives the nail cause and effect. Okay. Well, about the arm? Okay. What about the brain? What about the belief that the person has? What about – There’s so many other aspects. But if you give up the idea that something happens in the specifics of a causality, people talk about, “I am the way I am because of the way my father was.” No. You are the way you are because of the items that you cherry picked about your father that now explain the way you are, but there are a lot of other aspects about your father that you rode off or other aspects of your child that you just dismissed.
So then your whole notion of – I mean, why can’t I be caused by – If causality travels from the past to the present? Why can’t I be caused by some of the great days of my childhood? Why can’t that be the cause of why I am? Why can’t I be filled with joy because of that great day I spent playing soccer when I was nine? Why does it have to be that time when my father fought my mom?
I love dispelling the notion of causality, like I am here as a cause of something, like something caused me to be this way. I actually talk about this notion of reverse causality that is being caused by something yet to come, which is a whole lot of creation, right? What if I was influenced by caused by and inspired by that, which has not happened yet?
[00:52:11] MB: You know, that’s one of my favorite ideas from Alan Watts, this notion of the hammer hitting the nail. If you expand out anything, at this exact moment your entire life, any instance of anything that’s ever happened, it’s completely inseparable from everything. There’s no way to trace it back to anything except for the entire collective history of the whole cosmos.
[00:52:35] GJB: All right. That’s awesome. So therefore, like your petty complaints are a little more than just petty complaints.
[00:52:41] MB: That’s right. For listeners who – We’ve covered a lot of really interesting topics today. For listeners who want to concretely start somewhere with an action step or the way to begin implementing this, what would be one piece of homework that’s an action item that you would give to them to begin this journey?
[00:52:58] GJB: That’s a great question. This is what people can get to right away. Looking on in your life, whatever items you can choose, but something you’ve been tolerating, something you’ve been putting up with, something you’ve been putting off, something you’ve been ignoring or pretending about. It could be anything. It could be your closet in your bedroom. It could be your car. It could be those bills with taxes. Pick an item. One item that you’ve been tolerating and go handle it today.
I don’t mean like, “Oh, yeah! I want to do it in Thursday and next –” Handle it today. Take that item. Step up on your feet and go handle that item. Again, regardless of how you feel about that item [inaudible 00:53:41], I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m confused.” Get in there and get it handled.
Again, this is one of those things that has this accumulative effect. You’ll realize it after doing it, like you’re inspired to do another, and inspired to do another. So you want to make real change in your life. It begins by cleaning up some of the mess you’ve made. So there’s no point just going at the great stuff. Start cleaning up some mess. The more mess you clean up, you’ll realize the great stuff, things you thought you could do, start to get clearer and clearer. They come more into your field of vision and you’re more compelled to act on those things. Pick something simple. Pick something you’ve been tolerating and handle it.
[00:54:21] MB: Love it. That’s a great piece of homework for the listeners. For listeners who want to find more of your work, your books, etc., online, what is the best place for them to do that?
[00:54:32] GJB: You can find me on my website, garyjohnbishop.com. You can find me on Twitter @GaryJohnBishop. I’m on Instagram @GaryJohnBishop. You can find me on Facebook. One of the things that I’m really committed is that people get lots of free stuff. So I’m always putting stuff out online that will inspire you or cause you to think, really have you engage with that idea.
Obviously, on my website, you can buy any of my books. I’ve got a couple of courses on there. Courses are cheap. I don’t do this 99 bucks a month stuff. You can actually buy one of my courses that last for about 3-1/2 hours. You get all of the materials with it to do the course. It’ll cost you maybe – It depends. Something just sells on 75 bucks, 99 bucks for the course and you have the course for its entirety and you can do it as many times you’ll like. So I’m committed that people get to interact with me and participate with my work at a kind of cost that doesn’t require them, I guess, like a job or something.
[00:55:27] MB: Well, Gary, thank you so much for coming on the show, for sharing all these wisdom, some really insightful ideas and thoughts and examples and a great piece of action for the listeners to take after they listen to this episode.
[00:55:39] GJB: Awesome. Thanks for having me.
[00:55:41] MB: Thank you so much for listening to the Science of Success. We created this show to help you, our listeners, master evidence-based growth. I love hearing from listeners. If you want to reach out, share your story, or just say hi, shoot me an e-mail. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s M-A-T-T@successpodcast.com. I’d love to hear from you and I read and respond to every single listener e-mail.
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