The Client-centred Blog

Why mental clarity is the biggest game in town

Imagine someone who absolutely needs to be in the moment.

For safety’s sake.

Say someone like a surfer who is out there in the ocean hanging ten.

Picture this surfer riding a huge wave.

Can you see how thoughts don’t help the surfer?

What’s the surfer doing? Paying attention to the wave!

Information about what to do comes via insights arising in the moment.

There are no predetermined, premeditated actions or thoughts that can help.

What happens if the surfer on that massive wave focuses on what coulda/woulda/shoulda been done or worries about what will happen later in the day?

That’s right. Wipeout!

The above was written in the book ‘Meditation and reinventing yourself’ by my friend Alex Mill.

To me, what he points to is so brilliantly clear.

When we start thinking about what we are doing we are no longer in the moment, responding to what is, and the consequence is that we wipe out.

We can all relate to his example of the surfer wiping out, right?

Because it is dramatic and potentially life-threatening.

But what about wiping out in much more ordinary, everyday, non-life-threatening ways?

Wiping out is living in our heads.

It is wiping out because when we live in our heads, we lose the most important thing of all – clarity.

How do we know if we are living in our heads?

Life has a feeling or sense of tension to it. Relationships have little depth. You make decisions from fear. You are constantly distracted, living in the same thoughts and mental chatter just like a scratched record jumping back to the same place over and over.

Clarity, when you need it most, often evades you.

In this Coronavirus situation we can see how so many of the people who are in charge of making decisions lack clarity.

I was reading an article at the weekend about the response of various different countries and Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway said, “I probably took many of the decisions out of fear”.

Decisions made from fear are usually the wrong decisions.

To bring clarity fully back into our lives, help bring it back into the lives of others and do amazing work with our clients we have to stop living in our heads and instead be in the moment.

When was the last time that someone was so present with you that you were deeply touched?

Maybe you cannot even remember because it was so long ago.

When was the last time you were so present with someone that they were deeply touched by you?

In our society we revere the intellectual mind. We have made it our God.

In our professions we place all the value on intellectual knowledge. You have been hoodwinked into believing that if you become an expert you will do great work, impact your clients and have a wonderful life.

How is that working out?

As Alex says later in his book:

“Your attention can only be in one place at one time. In one of two places – either here or not here. When you are not here, you are lost.”

The secret to clarity is in the simplicity

All you need to do is notice where you are.

When do you tend to get lost in your thinking?

When you begin to notice when you are not here this brings you back into the here.

But for the intellectual mind this is way too simple – surely there must be a process or some steps to follow?

No, awareness does all the work for you. I wrote in ‘The client-centred financial adviser’:

“The human mind is inherently designed to clear itself. If you watch a young child of three or four years old, you can see they experience a wide range of feelings, positive and negative. When experiencing states such as anger, frustration, sadness, distress or fear you can also notice just how quickly a child returns to the present and mental clarity.”

P.S. A friend introduced me to the work of the late Alan Watts, and he speaks so clearly to what I am talking about in the article in this video.

John Dashfield

John Dashfield spent 14 years as a self-employed adviser. Since 2006 he has been a coach, mentor and author helping advisers create transformations in their business and personal lives.


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