- Thoughts for inspired living

August 29, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:27 am

I read with amusement that actor David Duchovny has entered treatment for “sex addiction.” My amusement is not that a man is seeking help with a situation in his life that has caused pain to his wife and children and others, but it is in response to a body of learned people who sat around and put a label on this behavior and called it an addiction. On second thought, it’s really not amusing; it’s downright sad.

This business of attaching labels to patterns of behavior and then putting them in a category called addiction does two counter-productive things:

  1. It puts an imaginary limitation of the person with the problem.
  2. It restricts those who offer assistance to help these people change behaviors.

The tacit, underlying belief system with the word “addiction” is this: “I am not responsible.” “I didn’t do it; my addiction did it.” Please stop. Let’s stop enabling people who have patterns of behavior that they refuse to take responsibility for.

There’s a reason there are so many attorney and psychiatrist jokes. A few practitioners taint the entire field of hard working, noble lawyers, doctors and counselors by proffering the “I didn’t do it” defense. The worst part is a portion of society starts to believe it.

“Your honor, the fact that my client drove his car into another and killed 4 people while addicted to alcohol merits special consideration because he couldn’t help himself. He needs treatment your honor, not jail time.” If you just laughed at the absurdity of that statement, hang out in a few court rooms or check in with a few attorney friends and you’ll find that defenses like these are uttered more than you can imagine.

Yes, address your personal situation and seek the help you need. Do not hide behind the word addiction. It doesn’t serve you and it doesn’t serve your loved ones or society.

The spin is that David Duchovny doesn’t “sleep around” because he wants to; he just can’t help himself because he’s addicted. Where does it end? “I’m addicted to robbing people at ATM machines” isn’t too far off if we continue with this absurdity.

What is your initial response when hearing a lie from another person when you both know they are lying? That’s the response that comes up for me when someone hides a jackass by sending out a scapegoat.

All the best,


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August 27, 2008

Your Job

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:13 am

My mother used to have a saying when someone was upset. She said, “They’ll get glad again.”
The Grasshopper had this to say the other day, “When you’re unhappy, your job is to find a way back to happiness.”

It’s no one’s responsibility but ours.

I, like you, have had unhappy moments in the past. I’m enough of a realist to know that I will have my share of them in the future. The key is to recognize that you’re unhappy and not to assign that feeling to circumstances. “I’m unhappy because . . .” is a statement that will keep you unhappy. “I have unhappiness inside me” is more of a platform for discovering the way back to happiness.

“I’m unhappy because . . .” keeps the story alive. The story will never lead you back to happiness. Experiencing the feeling of unhappiness in your body is the quickest way back. The minute you jump to your mind to justify the feeling in your body, you keep unhappiness in place that much longer.

There are causative factors that have us respond with unhappiness. Staying focused on the factors does nothing to alleviate our internal painful state. Paying attention to the feeling that goes along with the unhappy emotion gives it the recognition that it desires and deserves. Once the feeling is acknowledged, it begins the process of transmutation and leads us back to a happier state.

One of the biggest mistakes we can make when unhappy is to look outside ourselves for a solution. The solution always was and always will be inside. The outside remedies are always short term and never deal with the condition; they just cover it up.

Your job is to allow yourself the opportunity to recognize, acknowledge and sit with your unhappy feeling. There is a part of you that knows how to process that feeling and return you to the happiness that’s on the other side of it.

Chasing away the blues only works for awhile. I’ve never met anyone who has pissed and moaned their way to happiness. I doubt I ever will. Your job is to recognize that you can find your way there by allowing your body to do its job.

All the best,


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August 26, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:07 am

As the children head back to school, my thoughts turn to teachers. Did you have a favorite one? I did. Reminds me of a story . . .

He was my 10th grade biology teacher, Mr. Coletta. He had us call him by his first name, Rich. Rich had an interesting method of teaching especially when it came to testing. The day before a test he would put the test questions on the board. That meant you knew in advance what the questions were going to be. He encouraged you to research the answers and write them out that night so that the information would be fresh in your mind the next day. There was really no excuse not to do well on the test outside of pure laziness or indifference.

His method involved rehearsal vs. rote. His method involved a number of senses including the kinesthetic sense of physically writing out the answers as practice. It was quite ingenious for the time.

I had another teacher as an adult who taught me more about rehearsal. I’ve spoken of him many times. His name was Dr. Dave Dobson.

Dave taught us this wonderful exercise of rehearsing yourself in calm and collected feelings. It goes something like this:

Can you think of a time that you felt calm and collected? Involve as many senses as you can. What does it look like, sound like, feel like, smell and taste like to be calm and collected for you? Rehearse yourself in those feelings so you know exactly what it feels like to be calm and collected. Continue this rehearsal so that you can produce these feelings at a moment’s notice. Next, imagine a situation where you have some feelings that come up that are scary or bothersome. The minute you begin to experience those feelings, immediately bring to mind the calm and collected feelings you rehearsed yourself in. Rehearse this switching exercise over and over again until you become adept at it.

The result of this mental practice is that your mind will automatically throw the switch for you. This means that you will be able to respond appropriately and offer yourself more choices when scary or bothersome feelings come up.

Just like with Rich’s method, you have to do the rehearsal to do well on the test.

So I wonder how soon you’ll do this homework assignment and reap the benefits of rehearsal taught by two great teachers.

All the best,


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August 25, 2008

What’s Possible?

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:33 am

I find that my biggest limitation is knowing, in advance, what’s possible. I’m not saying that logic is my enemy; it’s my governor. Reminds me of a story . . .

My friend, Anthony had a 1967 Firebird and I had a 1967 Camaro. One night we challenged each other to a race on an isolated dirt road near the airport. We were cautiously stupid. The cars had the exact same engines because they were basically the same car put out by General Motors to appeal to different brand loyalties – Pontiac and Chevy.

I was surprised my Camaro beat his Firebird every time and by a substantial margin. Much to my dismay, we ruled out that I was a superior driver because when we switched cars, we came out with the same result – the Camaro won.

Anthony thought there was a major problem with his car. We checked with our friend, Bob who worked at the Pontiac dealership as a mechanic. Bob told us there should not be that much disparity between the cars. His experience suggested the races should be closer to even. He examined the car. Bob found the governor on the engine was adjusted to slow the car down. His sense was it was done on purpose. This caused Anthony to ask his father about the governor and his father admitted he had it adjusted so that Anthony wouldn’t “speed around.” – some fatherly intuition at work.

A governor won’t allow a car to go past a certain speed if adjusted downward. It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable and skilled the driver is. Your beliefs are governors.

Knowing what’s possible is a belief. I found that bypassing beliefs made more things possible for me and others. When I work with a client and they ask me if what they want to achieve is possible, my response is always the same – “I don’t know what’s not possible.” It certainly takes off the blinders as to what is possible. This mindset removes limitation and lets you explore a territory you would have never entered by having the preexisting condition of knowing.

Knowing is a perpetually red traffic signal.

With knowing, we adhere blindly to the belief of staying stopped at the light even though we know the signal is malfunctioning.

Not knowing is an adventuresome research project that probes more possibilities than knowing knows is possible.

Regarding what’s possible: When you know, you impede the flow. When you don’t know, you grow.

The next time you’re about to put the kibosh on what’s possible, adjust the governor and see how fast you get to where you couldn’t go.


All the best,






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August 22, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:22 am

I read a statement in the paper this morning that I did not believe. It was from a radio talk show host whose wife had filled out some radio ratings diaries from a radio measurement company to indicate her radio listening habits. This practice is against the company rules. If there is a member of the media in the household, you must decline the survey. Everyone in broadcasting knows this. This woman admits to filling out diaries that boosted her husband’s ratings exponentially – enough so that the company investigated.

The husband’s statement is that she did it without his knowledge. I don’t believe that. Am I calling him a liar? No!

“If you don’t believe his statement, you must believe that he is lying.” No, that’s not accurate. Aristotle may agree with you but I don’t. Perhaps an explanation is in order.

Regarding this story, I don’t have access to the truth. I was not there and I don’t live inside this guy’s head. I have no way of knowing the truth for sure, yet I don’t believe him. That does not make him a liar. My statement is a comment on my capacity to believe or not. I have put the onus on my belief and not on whether he’s telling the truth.

There is a major distinction here that goes far beyond the confines of this ratings story.

How much truth do we hold on to that we cannot validate? If it can’t be validated, it’s not true. It may be true inside your head, but it is not the absolute truth – it’s relevant truth – relevant to what you believe. Relevant truth can be useful or not.

For example, there are so many things we believe that are useful, yet not true. Many assumptions cannot be proven but many assumptions have paved the way to many great accomplishments. Columbus comes to mind. The “truth” was the world was flat. His assumption proved otherwise. Or, as Colin Tipping has written in his book Radical Forgiveness,

“. . . it is worth noting that even the most widely accepted theories are based on assumptions for which there is very little hard evidence. For example, did you know that not one shred of evidence exists to support Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? Historically, that theory ranks as one of the biggest assumptions ever made. It serves as the basic assumption behind all biological science and as the very foundation on which much of our accepted scientific truth rests. However, the fact that no evidence exists to prove this assumption true does not mean that the theory is invalid or not useful.”

We also hold as true some things that aren’t useful. How useful is prejudice? Talk to someone with a deep prejudice and you will find a deep relevant truth that can’t be validated, yet it is the foundation of his world.

My truth and your truth are mainly beliefs which cannot be validated. The absolute truth has no opposite. You won’t find truth in a debate – just relevant truths about peoples’ beliefs.

Take responsibility for your beliefs and stand up for them if you feel the need – just don’t make the mistake of labeling them as the truth. There will be consequences.

All the best,


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August 21, 2008

Answering Yourself

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:14 am

Have you ever been treated to the person who answers a question in the same fashion every time? “Did you get a haircut?” “Nope, got ’em all cut.” I’m sure that was funny the first time I heard it but now it has all the functionality of scented toilet paper.

Did you notice we seem to answer our own questions in the same way? We make a statement to ourselves or ask a question of ourselves and then we answer. The answer may not be the same words every time, like the worn out joke, but there is a patterned sameness about it.

I wonder if you can remember a time when you wanted to say something to someone but never said it because you went to the land of make believe – your head – to have a conversation. It may have gone something like this: “I would like to ask Sally to dance. She’ll never want to dance with me. She dances with all the boys on the football team and I’m in the poster club.” That’s called hallucinating.

You may have had this version: “Why am I so fat? Because you eat like you have two a**holes. You’ll never get thinner, so why even try?” This is a movie script that you’ve written and acted out so often, that the lines come to you automatically.

You may have a troublesome thought come back to you time after time. And each time, you give it the same response. What if you gave it no response at all?

Suppose your recurring thought is something like, “I’m not as good of a parent as I should be.” Notice that you will fashion some sort of answer to that statement and that answer will be almost identical to the answer you have given every time before. Then it turns into a full blown conversation inside your head with a predictable script. It’s like seeing yet another chase scene in an action movie. It does nothing for you.

What would happen if your comeback to a recurring thought was nothing more than an observation? What if you just observed the thought without retort? You would begin to end the war inside your head.

The next time you have a bothersome, recurring thought come to you (stimulus), choose this response: “I’m noticing I’m having the thought about being a bad parent.” That’s it – No beating yourself up about having the thought, no engaging in debate as to the accuracy of the thought, no denying the thought, no justification of the thought – Just pure observation in a factual manner. The minute you answer yourself, you engage in another battle that is winless and it leaves its carnage in your thoughts and feelings.

You have enough experience to know that your mind will bait you again. You now have a new way to respond – no response at all – just an observation.

The observation is most useful when you’re dispassionate like Sgt. Joe Friday in Dragnet – “Just the facts, ma’am.” If you say, “Damn it, I’m having the awful thought about being a bad parent again for the umpteenth time.” That’s not an observation but a condemnation. Leave the exasperation out of your observation.

The benefit to observing rather than answering is twofold:

  1. The war stops.
  2. The thought comes back less often.

This will take some training of your mind and the results are very peaceful.

Since I began this blog post with a tired, old joke, it only seems fitting to end with one.

One person tells their psychiatrist, “I must be crazy because I talk to myself.” The doctor says, “You’re only crazy if you answer yourself.”

All the best,


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August 20, 2008

Walking Dead

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:52 am

Here’s something life insurance people don’t want you to know – dead people don’t care. That’s why they have to sell you when you’re alive.

People who are emotionally dead don’t care either. They suffer from the activated indifference of the ego.

They don’t care about you and they don’t care about them. They are the walking dead.

They get so absorbed with self that nothing else exists for them. They are marooned in a mental prison that seemingly offers no escape. Others attempt to spur them on by encouraging them change the wallpaper in their cell, but they still remain imprisoned no matter what the internal decor.

Here’s The Grasshopper‘s key that unlocks the door:

If you are emotionally dead, you have to get out of your head.

Your thoughts have managed to numb you. You head is so crammed with thoughts, that there is no room for the escape plan to get in.

Sandra Maitri recounts an old Sufi parable in her book, The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram that provides the solution. She writes of the parable,

“It tells of a tinsmith who was unjustly imprisoned and who, seemingly miraculously, made his escape. Many years later when he was asked how he had done it, he replied that his wife, a weaver, had woven the design of the lock to his prison cell into the prayer rug upon which he prayed five times a day. Realizing that the prayer rug contained the design of the cell’s lock, he struck a deal with his jailers to get tools to make small artifacts, which the jailers then sold and profited from. Meanwhile, he also used the tools to create a key, and one day made his escape. The moral of the story is that understanding the design of the lock that keeps us imprisoned can help us fashion the key that will unlock it.”

The key is to becoming emotionally alive is to quiet the mind. That means you have to get out of your head in order to enter your body where all your aliveness registers.

I’ve counseled enough anorexics over the years to know that they have no sense of their body – only distorted mental images crammed in their head. Once they begin to access their body, space shows up in their head and keys begin to be fashioned.

The discovery of your body and its power of feeling alive is the key that gets you out of your head.

If you’re stuck in your head and emotionally dead, begin to focus your attention on your body. Feel what’s going on with it. It’s your connection to reality. Find activities that involve moving your body and feel those movements. It’s no accident that participation in yoga, tai chi, and other body awareness classes is growing at a rapid rate. People are discovering the way to peace of mind is through their body.

When you spend more time in your body, you’ll spend less time in your head. It’s the key to escape from the walking dead.

All the best,


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August 19, 2008

Work At It

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:52 am

Is there something that comes to you so naturally that you don’t have to work at it? It’s right there without effort. You may have not even dedicated any time to practicing this particular skill – you just discovered that you had it. Reminds me of a story . . .

I went to a grade school class reunion about 3 years ago and met up with a classmate I hadn’t seen since our school days. He introduced me to his wife and said, “John knows the artist of any hit record you can remember.” He cajoled her into coming up with a few song titles and on cue, I spit out the names of the artists. I always thought I got that skill by being in the radio business but apparently it was developed way back then. I never worked at it. It just came naturally.

What skill do you own that’s effortless?

Hint: It may not be one that’s so desirable.

Your effortless skills may be useful or counter-productive but either way, they are patterned behavior.

Patterned behavior takes on a life of its own and lives outside of you. The patterns pretend to be you. That can be wonderful when we are exhibiting some useful or fun patterns. It can be downright debilitating when our patterns are self-sabotaging and destructive.

Is there something you do that is so automatic that it continually brings you grief? That’s a pattern worth working at.

The reason we’ve put off the work is because we’ve convinced ourselves that this pattern is someone else’s fault or we expend all our energy justifying our behavior. Reminds me of another story . . .

I was on a cruise a number of years ago and one clinically obese member of our group was trying on rings at a jewelry store in St. Thomas. The ring she liked didn’t fit. She then said, “Damn my father for giving me fat fingers.” It was easy to extrapolate from her comment that her father was also responsible for all the other parts of her that were considered fat. She exhibited blame and justification in one short sentence. It came to her naturally. It also keeps her stuck.

If something keeps showing up in your life, it’s your pattern. If you continually attract certain kinds of people to you that you find offensive, it’s your pattern. If a piece of behavior keeps coming back, it’s your pattern. You can spend your days trying to change everyone in your world or you can go to work on your little corner of it. The interesting thing is the change you make has global effects. That means when you change your little piece of the planet, you also change the world. When your little cog changes direction, it produces changes in the paths of all the other cogs that surround you. This brings something different into your life.

To come back full circle to my grade school reunion, I’m about to sound like a broken record because you will continually hear me say the following: Recognition is the first key to change. Once you recognize that it’s your pattern then you can work at it. The longer that you attribute other people or circumstances as the cause of your pattern, the longer it will hang around.

Work at making yourself more responsible for your experience and you’ll find that change comes to you naturally.

All the best,


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August 18, 2008

Doing Your Best

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:16 am

Many years ago I heard Dr. Robert Anthony say, “You always do the best you can do.” He repeated it and many people in the room questioned his statement. He then added the omitted phrase – “in accordance with your present level of awareness.”

Years later I heard Harvey Diamond, co-author of the famous book, “Fit For Life” tell one of my radio listeners, “Don’t make it a religion, just do the best you can do.”

Your awareness dictates your best.

I’ll readily concede that if you’re in court, and asked why you shot someone, you may want to have a different answer than “It was the best I could do at the time.”

The “Baptism by Reality” is this: You can only do what you did.

The justifications won’t un-ring the bell. Berating yourself won’t change what happened. Denial won’t make the actions of the past disappear, nor will lying about them or ignoring them. Reminds me of a story . . .

My son, Michael when he was a teen had done something he was beating himself up about. It was getting to the point of drama when I asked him to come into the kitchen. I took a plastic cup filled with water and set it on the edge of the sink. I then requested that he tip the cup so that the water would spill into the sink. The second the water hit the sink’s surface, I told him in a frantic voice to get all the water back in the cup. He looked at me like I was crazy as the water had already gone down the drain. He then smiled and shook his head.

Have you ever had the thought that things may have turned out differently if you had done something different at the time? That is the foundation upon which guilt is built. You are judging a past action by a present level of awareness and allowing the self-destructive emotion of guilt to creep under the door. Guilt is pointless unless you use it to become more aware so that you don’t replicate similar behavior in the future. Then toss the guilt away.

Regrets are also a big waste of energy with no benefits attached. Note: Please don’t use this point of view as an excuse to keep an apology in your pocket. Apologies are cathartic and work for the giver and the receiver as well.

The main reason apologies are not given is because people have held on to and suppressed their guilt. The fear is that apologizing will allow it to resurface and consume them. The opposite is true. Apologies let all the air out of that beach ball that you’ve been attempting to hold under water.

Noticing that you did the best that you could do in accordance with your present level of awareness, bypasses long bouts of regret and guilt. This noticing gets you focused on how to attune your awareness so that you can behave more appropriately when faced with similar circumstances again.

If you’re in the midst of maiming yourself with a mental flogging, you may want to become aware of the notion, YOU ALWAYS DO THE BEST YOU CAN DO.

All the best,


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August 15, 2008

Second Language

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:52 am

There are a number of immigrants who live in our neighborhood and I’m always fascinated when I meet someone who can speak multiple languages. It’s even more impressive, if they had to learn the language to take advantage of opportunities in their new country. If you’re anything like me, you speak a few words in another language and that’s as far as it goes.

I got to thinking that I had training in another second language – the language of “other than conscious communication” as taught by Dr. Dave Dobson. It’s the language that transcends all cultures. Reminds me of a story . . .

Many years ago the owner’s wife of the company that I worked for asked me to speak to a group of limited means, diabetic women with high blood pressure who were pregnant. She did volunteer work for a number of charities and she thought I could be of help to these women. She also told me that most of them spoke no English. I asked her, “How am I supposed to be effective if they can’t understand me?” She said, “Oh, just do that stuff that you do and you’ll be fine.”

I went to the meeting center and was introduced in Spanish and they were told I spoke only English. There were raised eyebrows and some doubting grins from the participants. I began to communicate with the rhythm of my voice. I picked one person’s breathing pattern and timed my vocal rhythm to the rise and fall of her shoulders as she breathed. Within a couple of minutes, all 13 of the women were breathing at the same rate and all had closed their eyes. I continued this for about 15 minutes.

Later that afternoon, the boss’s wife called me and asked me what I had done. She said the news was fabulous. Most of the women had a decrease in their blood pressure and all reported feeling more relaxed than they had been in a long time. I told her what I did and she said, “You had to do more than that for them to get that type of result.”

The truth is I didn’t. I just spoke a second language.

You can communicate better with anyone you choose if you choose to pay attention to what they give you. You can breathe at the same rate as someone and gain rapport. You can match the speed of their voice when chatting and increase your connection. You can arrange your body in the same position as theirs and better serve the communication. The list is endless.

The universal second language is to match something that’s going on outside of someone’s conscious awareness. It will register. Most people are unaware of their breathing rates, vocal rhythms or body positions as they communicate. When you become aware and briefly match the piece of behavior they offer, you are shaking hands in a second language and penetrating all cultural barriers.

I could have made this all up but I didn’t. If you want more information on the art of subconscious rapport, pick up a book on NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming). It’s a start. But the best way to validate this second language for yourself is to put it to work and notice the connections you make.



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