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Life Is Hard…Or Is It? A Mental Health Journey About The Benefits Of Reframing Personal Challenges

September 4, 2018

Life Is Hard…Or Is It?

 

First lets define a couple words relating to this topic and add clarity to the question. There are many moments in life I believe we all describe as hard and easy, whether learning something new, trying a different process to achieve a desired result or even in the simplest exchanges with the ones you love most. Through years of self discovery via, counselling, books, reflection from past traumatic events and joyous ones, I've been harnessing the art of reframing as I continue to exist in this world. Let's define!

 

Easy: achieved without great effort; presenting few difficulties.

 

Hard: solid, firm, and resistant to pressure; not easily broken, bent, or pierced.

 

Familiar: well known from long or close association.

 

Unfamiliar: not known or recognized.

 

I find myself more often than not verbalizing my viewpoint on our limiting beliefs in conversations I have with folks, ones that we apply to a variety of everyday situations. I think for the most part when we feel the need to describe something as Hard it is typically about some form of artistic expression or on the topic of fulfilling our passion & purpose with our time here. 

 

 At the age of 20, I read a book, suggested to me by a guitarist I was in a band with at the time, called Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner, a jazz pianist, and composer.

 

 Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within is a book for any musician who finds themselves having reached a plateau in their development…“Mastery is available to everyone,” the concepts presented are for every profession or lifestyle where there is a need for free-flowing, effortless thinking. 

 

At the time I had made a definitive decision that my life would be centred around artistic expression no matter the outcome. I had over a decade worth of Theatre, Vocal, Songwriting experience training at that point in my life and had confidence in my decision. I didn’t know what that would look like and nor did I care, I realized a true passion and wanted to pursue it in all its facets. I mention the book because at the time I was ferociously trying to grow as a songwriter and felt consistently blocked by limiting beliefs that I would place upon myself. Things like, my songs aren’t good as other artists I admire, my voice isn’t appealing, I’m shitty at my instrument and the strongest one being why would anybody like me or what I have to say. They are core beliefs about my self-worth and lovability that I still face to this day. 

 

 In his book, one fundamental resonated with me the most, to the point that 19 years ago I stopped looking at anything as hard or easy and began to view as familiar or unfamiliar. I can see how that may not be a life-altering piece of advice and I would invite anyone to reflect a moment on the things they labeled as hard in their life. Take something like learning guitar, when my Dad tried to teach me for the first time at the age of 9, I found it hard and stopped trying. When I picked it up again at the age of 13, I was at a closing party for a Sketch comedy show I was in, someone showed me a G chord and I played that chord around a fire of wild partying teenagers for three hours. I got familiar with it. The only resistant force I had to break was the one I was creating myself. Patience, ego, inhibition, an eclectic list of mental constructs had to quiet their voice so I could freely explore the guitar and get familiar with the tool I was trying to learn. I think it is easy for all of us to agree that if you spend enough time doing one thing you will continue to grow the more familiar you get with it. Yes, at this point to play a G chord it is easy in the true definition of the word and it is only this way because of the time I’ve put in getting familiar with it.

 

 

Now that is something that stirred in me almost 20 years ago and at the time I mainly applied it to being a singer, songwriter, and entertainer. The wonderful part was how seamlessly it began to present itself into all facets of my life. The ideal began to diffuse my limiting beliefs when they arose, learning something new had become something I craved, fuelled by the power of knowing all I have to do is give patience and time to something and I would acquire my desired results. This transcended art and commerce and bled into personal relationships, even with the people I worked with. When it comes to the people we hold close, one of the greatest challenges I find is to be fearlessly honest. Given the awareness I have around my family of origin or simply put my upbringing, that is one I will continue to master until the day I die. I think the majority of folks don’t like to upset people or hurt them so we instead destroy ourselves by suppressing and manipulating our language to tend to the needs of another. Now if you’re really close to a person and spend decades doing this, it can be no wonder why most marriages end in divorce. Blinded by anger and rage we tear apart the foundations of family units, oblivious to the effects of the children we’ve claimed responsibility for by divine right. I know for myself when I have a truth to share I can still say its too hard I don’t want to, the wonderfully shitty thing about self-awareness and empathy is that you can only lie to yourself for so long until your body does something about. Passive aggressive behaviours, disease, depression, so many self-made ailments all to avoid some we potentially label as hard and will do anything to avoid. 

 

So in the case of our Band, ‘Mountains’ is the first and truly only song we’ve written together from scratch. Now we are about to embark on writing a new album and this time around we are looking to really define our sound, to find where we fit in the realm of genres and we all agree we desire to write the bulk of it from scratch together in an effort to really sculpt a united voice and sound. Songwriting is a deeply vulnerable place for each of us and it comes with an array of challenges. When I’m faced with the fear of the unknown, these are the things I remind myself, it is an almost foreign concept for us to write in such a way, something wonderfully terrifying and new to venture into. These moments in life it can be a default to say it is hard or easy and until we write 100 songs together I am choosing to not label it as such. Learning new things can, if you choose to see it this way, be the most character-defining learning opportunities no matter of any outcome.

 

 

 

I don't view myself as a know it all, I don’t expect anyone to fall in line with my life view, I actually try to not invest energy into any expectations, I choose to quietly lead by example or to quote Gandhi “Be The Change You Want To See In The World.” I choose to unconditionally accept everyone for who they choose to be. I apply boundaries around volatile relationships and destroy them for people that I find influence my world in a positive fashion, all in an effort to support my own mental well being. I am human, it is a daily adventure, I do falter from this ideal and come back to it whenever I do. I still find things hard and will say it in my head, the power of becoming familiar with something is that it does come with ease over time. So when I’m trying to write a song, learn a new piece of software or just navigate a conflict with loved ones, the second I say "something is hard" my next thought now is immediate "no it’s not you’re just not familiar with this yet and that is why you are feeling the unease you are experiencing." At that moment I can employ the power of choice. I have spent enough time applying this to my life in the 19yrs since having this epiphany to just know that it works for me.

 

 

  

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